Africa

30 September 2020

The process of launching a new product in a changing environment

The process of launching a new product in the market is exciting for any company as it is a sign of growth. The downside is that the market and environment is very unpredictable as it keeps changing. You should, therefore, be well versed in that to increase your odds of success.

Some of the factors you should keep in mind when you want to successfully run the process of launching a new product in a changing environment include;

Market research

You need to do your research right to know the needs of the market and align yourself strategically. That means that you should research the need your product seeks to address to see if it is the right fit for the market and if any adjustments need to be made.

Competition: You need to research your competitors since we are in a competitive space. You need to know what similar products your competitors are doing and how different yours will be. The small difference is what makes all the difference. It would help if you were informed on your competitors, their plans, and their strategies. When you know their mode of operation, you can understand how to place yourself differently to beat them.

Trends: It is crucial to study the market trends of your kind of product and your niche. The truth is that the trends are always evolving, and you are obliged to keep up with the trends to meet your niche market needs. You can keep up with the trends by staying informed and reading as much as you can. Social media is an excellent place to know the trends. Your source of information will depend on the kind of products that you deal with and your niche. 

For some niches e.g., farming, you may be forced to get your hands dirty on the field to know the preferences of farmers and their trends.

The process of launching a new product in a changing environment - strategy

Strategy

Achieving success is all about strategy. The kind of approach you have will determine your odds of success. When you are launching a new product, you need to be very sharp on the path that you choose to take.

Challenges: When you are coming up with a strategy, you need to consider all the possible difficulties you are likely to face and how you will address them. You can know the challenges by first defining your product, your plan to expand to, and your niche market. 

If it is an agricultural product, for example, a fertilizer, you may find that different countries have different requirements. For example, in Kenya, you are required to do a pilot test first to prove the product’s efficacy before you can launch it. 

It is essential to know as many requirements and challenges as possible so that you can understand how to address them. For some challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, you may not have a way of preventing it, but you can adapt to the situation and work through it. For example, the epidemic may be a great time to carry out pilot tests.

Risks: You need a strategy on how to address any risks you may face. For finances, you need to plan well and have a reasonable budget. In some cases, you may need insurance to take care of some risks. Luckily, insurance companies have become flexible with many types of covers that you may find something suitable for you.

Finances: As for the funds, you are likely to spend more than you anticipated. That means that you need to have a proper budget allocation. 

For example, you may find that your end market prefers a particular packaging than what you offer. That will mean that you have to spend money to give them the kind of package that they prefer.

The process of launching a new product in a changing environment - test and trialsTests and trials

Before you launch a new product, you must do a pilot test to know if the product is a right fit for the market. When you test the product, you will determine if the niche market is ready for the product. In most markets, you are required to do a pilot test prior. When customers test the product, they will be able to tell you the results they are getting from the product, if the product is suitable for the market, and what kind of adjustments you need to make the product better suited for the market. 

From our experience in the Kenyan market, some customers may shy away from testing a new product as they are not very familiar with it and are uncertain of the results that they will get. From like ten customers, you may get three who are willing to test the product. That is still positive as you will get someone willing to test the product at the end of the day, and that is what matters. After the pilot test, you can ask them opinions about the product, and they will gladly give you. You can use that information to come up with a working strategy. In some cases, you may have to come up with incentives to encourage more customers to be willing to test the product. When you are doing a test, do it preferably with someone influential as that will give you a strategic edge. An influential person will spread the news faster, and their reviews will reach more people in a short time as compared to any other regular person. 

For example, for a farming-related pilot test that we did, we had to look for influential farmers and that worked out pretty well. One farmer could spread the news about five more farmers, and that is how the demand for the product evolved. Those five farmers told their two to three other farmers, and the demand grew.
So, you find that in the short period which you run the pilot, you already have a customer base as there is already demand for your product.
For example, if you choose to do a farming related pilot test as we did. The pilot study may take up to two months depending on your kind of product. If you choose five influential farmers, you will find that with one farmer you can get up to 45 new farmers, and hence 5 farmers you can get up to 225 farmers, which is a good customer base for the product. That means that in 2 months you already have 225 farmers, who are in demand of your products. That is the simplest way of creating demand for products as word of mouth works much faster than other marketing methods.

From the pilots, you can partner with the appropriate distributors who will distribute the products to meet the demand for the products.

 

The process of launching a new product in a changing environment - training

Training

When you are introducing a new product, you should be versed in training. Training will make sure that people understand the product and how it is used.

Team training: Your team needs to be trained on the product. They need to be more trained than the customers so that they can efficiently address customer concerns.

Stakeholder training: You will be required to do training to your other stakeholders, which in this case, are mostly customers and distributors. Distributors should be informed since they are the ones that will educate customers about the product and address any concerns they may have. Customers need to have a more in-depth knowledge of the product so that they may know how it works and the results to expect. For most products, if they are not used correctly, they will not produce the desired outcome.

When you do all that, you also need to have the right partnerships. Apart from the end customers, you also need to partner with distributors. For most distributors, it is not a walk in the park since it is a new product. You may find that from ten distributors that you seek and engage, only two would be willing to engage and partner with you. This is normal as it is also a risk for the distributor, and most of them prefer fast-moving goods. They would be more willing to corporate with you when you have a name and a more influential position in the market.

The kind of goals you set will determine your success. Even though you may have one main end goal, you need to break it down into tasks and subtasks with dates. When you handle subtasks, you will be sure that you are handling the tasks, which can help you achieve your end goals. Luckily, we are in an era where tracking and achieving goals is much easier as many applications, such as Todoist and Trello, can help keep you on track.

Conclusion

The process of launching a new product in a changing environment is much more attainable and simpler than has been perceived. You have to keep in mind that information is power, so you need as much information as possible. With knowledge, you can efficiently strategize, and that will help you attain success.



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