So you have an upcoming product that's better than the invention of sliced bread. Now wouldn't it be fantastic if you could create enough buzz with your pre-release campaign that you end up having thousands of people signing up on wait lists to take home your upcoming release? Indeed, one of the biggest contributors to a winning product/brand launch is priming the pump. Priming the pump collectively defines all the activities that a marketer takes up to build excitement and create demand for his product before it is made available to buyers. He can prime the pump no matter how large or small the target market or the size of the budget. It is imperative because a winning product launch delivers sales momentum for your company. It is unavoidable given the kind of competition you have in every market today and the kind of expectation consumers have from the products they buy.
That is one lesson each one of the top five brands on the winners list for this year's Brand Derby has learnt very well - either from the company's earlier outings in the market or from the mistakes that other brands have made. The Brand Derby, for the record, is a survey that Business Standard carries out every year among senior marketing professionals to rank the successful brand launches in the previous year and understand what sets the winners apart from the losers. This year, like earlier years, the study was conducted in Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Ahmedabad, Pune, and Hyderabad among senior marketing professionals. The field work was completed between March 12 and April 12, 2013.
The Duster, a sport utility vehicle (SUV) from Renault India, wins the race hands down this year. Hindi movie Kahaani, Samsung's Galaxy Note II phablet, Audi's cheapest SUV Q3 and Ek Tha Tiger, again a Hindi movie, take up the remaining slots on the top five list. Last year, the final Derby results had two movies, two technology brands and one automobile brand among the top five. Interestingly, the Derby finished this year with six movies in the top ten against five last year. The number of automobile brands among the top ten, however, remain the same in 2012 and 2013 - three.
Analysts say, as a marketer you would have done 50 per cent of the job if you have managed to pull off an irresistible teaser campaign that builds up anticipation for your product; it is up to the brand/product do the other 50 per cent once it arrives in the market. So why do so few companies get it right? It's not because they're lucky. It's because they get the basics right. They know how to match product capabilities to market needs; they set clear launch goals; they try to see if the timing is right; and they send out a clear positioning message right at the outset. (The most successful launches of 2012)
As we said in the beginning, this year's five top brands laid great emphasis on the build-up to the launch. Take the Duster, undeniably Renault's most anticipated car for India. It was a great product at a great price. But what the company did in its communication was not focus on the price or the features. Instead, it concentrated on telling a story - about how its new product would put other brands in the category to shame and be the game changer. It used traditional media and roped in journalists and bloggers to do previews and write about the product's success in other markets, and even speculate about what the product mix was likely to be.
That the company was able to drum up a buzz long before the launch was evident from the booking numbers it logged early on. According to Renault, the Duster received over 1,000 orders even before it arrived at the dealers.
In its way, Kahaani, too, offered viewers a novel product - both in terms of the story and the ensemble cast. It also took an off-beat communication route - it set Vidya Balan, the leading lady, in direct contact with the potential viewer. Dressed as the character she plays in the movie, Balan visited malls and railway stations asking people whether they had seen the person whose picture she was carrying. This set-up was taken straight out of the movie, in which Balan plays the role of a pregnant wife looking for her absconding husband in a middle-class sort of way. It just stuck. Being in sync with the consumer and speaking to them about the way they live their lives is a timeless formula.
Most of the other brands on the top ten list also did just that. As our analysis of each of the launch campaigns will demonstrate (Pages 2 & 3), instead of going the high-tech blitz route, they spoke to the consumer in their language and got them to endorse the brands.
The success of the top brands in the Brand Derby proves that a product launch does not have to be an all-or-nothing leap of faith. By focusing on the consumers, the job to be done, combining the best of old and new marketing techniques, and researching the market relentlessly to reduce risk, even the most unlikely contenders can get out of their own way to bring big, new innovations successfully to market.