Launching with Impact in Canada: What’s Trending into the New Year
There was a time where ‘marketing launch plan’ seemed to take on a somewhat predictable formula. One brand innovation or line extension per year, all budget concentrated in a 3 month window and all efforts really depended upon an out-of-the-gate success. While for some FMCG brands this standard formula may still be the necessary playbook, for many more of our clients we are seeing custom approaches driven by enhanced understanding and prioritization of consumer behaviour, needs and loyalty and a commitment to nimble, responsive action. Here are a few trends we’re seeing when it comes to launching brands and products in Canada.
- New Audiences
There was a time when many client briefs listed “target audience” as Women 18-54. That was replaced with a blanket target of Millennials. But now, more brands are recognizing not just the complexity of “millennials” (which includes a multitude of different life stages, preferences and behaviours, cultural diversity, household composition and income brackets, etc.), they are also recognizing the potential and relevance of active agers (50+), the emergence of Gen Z and the often forgotten Gen Xers, as well as diverse, multi-cultural communities. The power of identifying niche audiences is fuelled by a much more responsive and dynamic digital playground and this is creating more targeted and impactful launch opportunities, than ever before.
- Sustained launch strategy
While ‘fewer, bigger, better’ continues to be a logical mantra and best practice, with a more efficient channel strategy the ability to stretch launch efforts beyond the initial push is helping to support success goals (and sustain sales) beyond the first 12 weeks. More often we are seeing brands commit to launch plans that support Public Relations, Shopper and Marketing efforts and that allow for continued momentum and growth beyond the first 90 days. Recognizing that the awareness job-to-be-done is often not achieved after the first campaign effort, this sustain approach provides more opportunity for brands to be responsive and optimize based on consumer and retail demands and behaviours.What’s more, many brands are looking to move away from single-seasonality, identifying needs and behaviours that drive product consumption beyond a single time frame. Better-for-you ice cream beyond just the summer months, hair removal services and products that recognize ‘everyday’ routines, fitness and nutrition beyond (and perhaps instead of) at resolution season, all ladder up to better understanding and connection with consumers and more opportunity for share of voice when engaging with key audiences 365 days a year.
- More Options
While limited edition and seasonal launches can be difficult to operationalize in the traditional retail environment, it does introduce more opportunity for product experimentation and provides a little something new for loyalists and new users who may be intrigued by a unique offering that strikes a chord. Seasonal flavours, region-specific offerings and co-branded products are just some of the ways brands can drive excitement without waiting on an all-or-nothing global innovation. Plus, eCommerce and pop-up shops are helping to bring these “in and out” exclusives to fans across Canada, over a short time frame.
Launching a product doesn’t always have to mean going it alone. There is a lot of power (and success) in sharing the limelight. Collaborating with a like-minded partner can not only lead to unique offerings but it can also drive reach amongst similar but new audiences, and through borrowed brand equity and endorsement. Providing complementary brand solutions, or co-branded product innovation or simply amplifying shared beliefs or purpose can grow a brand’s community through another.
- Launching with Purpose
Continued prioritization of brand purpose is becoming the norm and not the exception, but increasingly brands are considering the holistic responsibilities behind a stated and committed purpose and how it relates to launching innovation. From scrutinizing and re-establishing the status quo of sustainable sourcing, to packaging and the full cycle of consumption, to the faces and bodies that represent a brand and the images we do and don’t see. Launching a new product includes a big opportunity for new and established brands to anchor (or re-set) their point of difference beyond just a competitive feature.
- Embracing Regionality
Yes, Canada may be a fraction of the size of other global markets, but it is not just another State and the behaviours, needs and preferences of the Canadian population can’t be assumed to be a mirror image of our neighbours to the south. And it’s not just cross-border, within the nation there are differences as well that need to be considered and if effectively embraced, can drive regional success and preference. Staying true to the brand ethos is integral, but understanding the nuances (and requirements) of interpretation, packaging and claims regulations, media and influencer landscape, shopper behaviour, competitive activities and more, can positively drive impact – without costly investment to reverse or address missed opportunities. Having a team who lives and breathes local culture and consumer change is a great way to start and complement the global launch strategy.
If you’re considering a launch in Canada but don’t know where to start, let’s chat!
Harbinger is a Toronto-based North American marketing agency with expertise in product launches. We help brands get noticed and purchased.
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