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PRODUCT LAUNCHES

Research: Types of customers to consider when launching a new product

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

International researchers emphasise that it’s not ‘one size fits all’ when developing new product launch strategies.

New research from the European School of Management and Technology, also known as ESMT Berlin, explores the key strategies that firms should adopt when launching a new product.  

The researchers say that these strategies depend on the current market view of the product and the firm. Employing the correct one, which could mean collaborating with demanding reviewers or instituting challenging pilot tests, gives the product launch a better chance of success. 

Photo: Unsplash

 

Their paper is published in the peer-reviewed journal Production and Operations Management. 

Tamer Boyaci, Professor of Management Science, and Huseyin Gurkan, Assistant Professor of Management Science, both at ESMT, and their colleague Soudipta Chakraborty, from the  

University of Kansas in the US, say firms often release information about the product to a select number of customers, usually through public pilot tests and giveaways to customers, or sharing their products with opinion leaders and influencers. 

However, this approach raises several questions: What type of reviewers should firms reach out to? What pilot tests should be performed? 

The researchers say there are three key strategies that firms should use, depending on the characteristics of the potential customers. 

Fans, sceptics and middle-grounders 

When creating demand to a new product, there are several types of customers to consider: fans of the product who want to receive it immediately and are optimistic about the quality; sceptics who are pessimistic about the product and likely won’t buy until convinced; and middle-grounders who need more information to buy a product. 

The researchers’ framework shows that in a market dominated by fans, Apple or Nike being examples of brands in this category, the launch strategy may not necessarily require soliciting reviews or conducting publicly observable pilot tests. The strong brand image and customer loyalty will help to drive sales. 

In a market dominated by sceptics – likely with new, innovative, or sustainable-focused products – companies should choose objective product reviewers or perform a variety of realistic pilot tests that provide customers with an idea of quality and benefits. 

However, a market with middle-grounders requires a third strategy. This necessitates collaborating with demanding reviewers or instituting challenging pilot tests. 

This is because a potentially positive review or performance evaluation would remove customers’ concerns about the product. Due to the demanding nature of the reviewer or test, even a negative review or a failed test would not necessarily indicate bad quality. 

“Companies with new products have always sought opinion leaders to pass their products onto first – whether it’s book reviewers, magazine editors, or the more prominent social media influencers we see today,” says Boyaci. 

Prof. Gurkan adds, “It’s easy to assume that much exposure for your product with influencers is a good thing as it pushes demand up further, but this is a tricky game, and companies must be more considerate in their product-launch approaches.” 

In summary, says the research team, when launching a new product it is key to understand what your target audience and potential customers think of the company, as well as the type of product you are unveiling. The greater understanding you have, the less likely you are to receive a launch backlash, or experience a lack of demand due to limited product awareness. 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.