Any brand that has considered launching a new product during the pandemic has found out that there is no such thing as “business as usual”. Governments around the world have been lifting some of the strictest measures for the containment of the spread of Covid-19, but our lifestyle, our way of perceiving marketing, and our idea of consumption seem to have been altered for good. Apple, of course, has managed to launch a new iPhone successfully in April, but not all companies can count on the same traction in terms of market share and marketing budget. So how should you go about launching a new product at this difficult time? Here are the first steps you should take.
Set sensible goals before launching a new product
If “business as usual” is no longer an option, then your business goals should be adjusted to the new scenario. Before you reassess your marketing strategy, you should redefine your objectives according to your target audience’s new habits and consumer styles. This may be a good time to reassess your brand identity too: if individuals are allowed to change with the times, then so are brands. Redesign your messages according to your and your audience’s new and updated identity. When speaking of business goals, it also makes sense to explore your demographics: how have they been affected by the health and financial crisis? How have their habits changed? Does it make sense to expect them to buy the same volume of your product as before the pandemic? Based on this initial research, you should redefine what a successful launch could look like in a post-Covid (or post-first-wave) world.
Organise a virtual event
Launches are, first and foremost, events. Sometimes they take place in one day, sometimes they extend over a longer period of time, taking in multiple locations. That, at least, is what we used to know and love about them. Events in their traditional form, naturally, are now impossible to organise, but that doesn’t mean your launch should be understated. So, how do you go about launching a new product during these unprecedented times? Virtual events have been developing incredibly fast and already there are formats meant to fit different needs. If you want to privilege direct interaction with your industry or with the public, you could organise a virtual conference or take part in a virtual trade show. If you are currently focusing on reaching out to the press and to specific media professionals, you could choose a “virtual press day”, whereby a special gift-box is sent to individual media professionals of your choice and the following interaction is managed on social media and live-streams.
Don’t be tone-deaf: your old marketing strategies won’t do
There’s not much about the future that we can even attempt to guess right now, but one thing we know: physical interaction will be severely limited for a prolonged period of time and large chunks of the population will stay home for longer periods (both in terms of hours per day and days per month) than ever in living memory. This means your digital marketing strategy is now more important than ever and should be impeccable. In Italy, where a very high number of Covid cases have required complete confinement, internet traffic has grown between 8 and 30% at the peak of the pandemic. But brands should be aware that crafting a good marketing strategy doesn’t mean bombarding users with calls to action: consumers need to be offered personalised, relevant, and updated information and met with an empathic response to their newly-found needs.