How to Launch a New Product Successfully

By March 13, 2017 Blog

The article below details how to launch a new product successfully.

For every organization, New Product Introductions (NPI) require an added level of scrutiny and attention. Whether it be for consumer packaged goods like a new type of shampoo, or a restaurant chain bringing a new sandwich to market, there is a certain level of planning and execution necessary to achieve a successful launch. “Getting it right” is not always easy, and requires a proven operational program that will encompass all aspects from pre-to post launch using the tools necessary to measure success.

Sonic Restaurants

There are different ways of bringing a Food related NPI to life. The first step in most processes begins with Research and Development (R/D) from within the business. An internal team conducting research on the market, to see what trends are popular and what could potentially resonate with customers. It’s common place to find headquarters of large restaurant chains to house facilities dedicated to R/D. Sonic, the 3500 location Oklahoma City based chain is a great example of this with their 40-person R/D dining room. It’s here that they’ll test products both internally with employees and externally with customer focus groups.

Once the new product has been developed, the next step is to introduce it to a larger pool. For restaurant chains, a common practice will be to first launch in Corporate owned locations or in specific geographic regions. As told by the Wall Street Journal, Orlando is often used as a testing group due to its range of local customers and tourist visitors.

Creating the new product is however, only half the battle. Implementing it into the market correctly is what will ultimately determine if it stays. The question now becomes, how do you guarantee effective product and operational execution?

The answer: A well thought out and actionable plan, with a defined step by step checklist and metrics from which to measure success. While this may seem obvious, there are many instances where despite great R/D and a really tasty product, operationally it simply doesn’t work. Pre-defined metrics, gauging how the launch is received both by customers and restaurant management is extremely important.

One of the best examples comes from the restaurant chain, McDonalds. In the late 1980’s McDonalds took a brief foray into the Pizza industry, with customers really enjoying it. The problem occurred as franchisees quickly realized that operationally, it was a mess. Each McDonalds was built was for speed of service and making a pizza takes time. Each McDonalds Pizza took 11 minutes to cook, compared with a Big Mac ready in just 2-3 minutes. This caused a severe a strain on the operations of each restaurant. This coupled with the fact that drive through windows were not even big enough to fit a box through it, resulted in the “McPizza” (its unofficial name) lasting just a few years before being dropped from the menu entirely.

In this case, McDonalds had a rare situation where they were unable to properly execute on what was set to be a great NPI. Had they created an effective assessment designed specifically for their Pizza NPI, the result might have been different. During planning, McDonalds could have identified the operational issues, and devised a sound solution or potentially decided that the changes required to make it a success were just too costly. Either way, the analysis and assessment process are key to a great NPI.

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