Eight out of 10 retail brand marketers prioritise social when launching new products, Five by Five shows

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Research unveiled today has highlighted that social media is king when it comes to launching new products in the retail sector: eight out of 10 brand marketers (80%) now prioritise social media in their launch marketing plans. This is in line with the wider marketing industry, where 74% of marketers now prioritise social.

The research was commissioned by launch marketing specialist agency Five by Five, interviewing more than 730 senior marketers across the UK, US and Australia. This included 201 brand marketers working in the retail industry.

Sales promotion ranked second among the most important channels in retail, with just over two thirds of marketers (68%) citing it, with email coming in third (50%). TV only ranked fourth (44%) followed by direct mail (39%), suggesting that ‘traditional’ above the line ad campaigns are no longer holding sway when it comes to building awareness for new products and services.

This reinforces Five by Five’s consumer study last year, where only 6% of consumers said that TV advertising was a key factor in whether or not they bought a new product.

According to this new study, one factor in the growth of social as the go-to channel for launches may be the faster timeframes facing marketers: eight out of 10 marketers working in the retail sector (83%) say that the average time between the idea first originating and launching the product has shrunk over the past five years. In addition, three quarters (76%) say they usually have only six months or less to prepare for a product launch.

It also found that around two-thirds of marketers working in retail (72%) use social listening to support their new product development. This is highest in the retail sector, second highest in the entertainment sector (68%) and by far the lowest in financial services (51%).

Furthermore, just under half (47%) believe the biggest benefit of social channels lies in generating awareness before the product actually launches.

Martin Flavin, creative director at Five by Five, comments: “Social media has become the most important way to generate buzz for new products and services before they appear. Shareable content and social engagement allow brands to create a groundswell of pre-launch interest in a way no other channel can match.”

The study also asked marketers how they feel launch marketing has changed over the past five years. In addition to the tighter timeframes involved, around three quarters of marketers working in retail (70%) now think launches cost more, 56% of marketers believe the internal processes prior to launch are less difficult than they used to be, with almost nine in 10 (88%) believing they are now able to make better informed decisions about their product launches.

Meanwhile, 75% of marketers in the retail sector think the creative ideas around product launches have become braver over the past five years. While nearly nine out of 10 (85%) believe launch campaigns are now more measurable. This proportion is highest among the luxury goods (91%), healthcare (91%) and FMCG (90%) sectors.

Michelle Mitchell, strategy director at Five by Five, adds: “Deadlines have got tighter, and costs have risen – but marketers now are more informed about their product launches than ever. This increased knowledge means that campaigns are braver, smoother and more effective.”

Unsurprisingly, three quarters (77%) think launch marketing is significantly different to other forms of marketing and requires specialist handling.

Half (49%) of the retail marketers surveyed said they use soft launching to support new product or service development.

In addition, the three factors most likely to threaten the successful launch of a new product or service within retail are lack of budget (50%) and ineffective marketing communications and competitor activity, which were ranked equally at 40%. Senior marketers spend an average of 40% of their time on launch activity, and as a consequence, many cite the need for additional resource around launch.

“While the internal processes marketers go through to get their launch off the ground may have become easier, they are still considered a significant barrier to success; there is clearly still room for improvement.

“For many senior marketers, launches have become more multi-faceted. This means that effective communication internally, alignment with external agencies and the correct investment of time and budgets is crucially for ensuring a successful launch.”

The full report can be downloaded from here: www.fivebyfiveglobal.com/2017research