To Launch Or Not To Launch During a Pandemic?

To launch or not to launch? That is the question. Now many business owners can relate to how Shakespeare felt!

We are now one month into the COVID-19 pandemic and there seems to be the feeling that this is the new normal. Many companies who were planning to launch new products or programs sometime this month or this year, are having to make tough decisions about whether or not to go ahead or put their launches on hold.

Launching during a pandemic has it’s pros and cons. Some of these projects have been put on hold because companies are not sure if a launch at this time would appear opportunistic, while others are carrying on “business as usual”.

If you were planning to launch a new product this season or sometime this year, I would say there are a few factors to consider, before you make the decision to go ahead or not.

1. Which Industry are you in?

Is my product or service essential during this time? Many non-essential businesses have been ordered to close across the country. For some people in that sector, the decision to launch a new product or not has been somewhat easier.

As more people are coming to terms with reality, the normalcy of being at home is starting to sink in. They are moving to the stage of acceptance that the Quarantine will continue for some time.

If you sell an essential product in health, fitness or food, launching your product during the pandemic can make sense.

We have seen a rise in technology. The first one we think about is Zoom. There has also been a rise in the use of educational online platforms such as Khan Academy. So if you are in the technology or education space for example, and you were planning to launch a product, now is the perfect time.

Another category, which has seen a rise, is in Loungewear.

More people are looking for comfort.

Loungewear has been the defining trend of the coronavirus epidemic; according to marketing research firm Edited. As more people are working from home, there is less need for formal wear such as suit and tie.

Outside of fashion and technology, the biggest winner has been home and home improvement, which is driving the 62 percent increase in sales for general retail online, according to Qubit. Home Improvement and hardware stores have been considered essential services in countries such as Canada.

There has been a shift in emphasis towards the home. This is not a big surprise as more people are working from home. Home ware accessories are also tracking positively with items such as candles doubling in sales. People are looking for calm, safety and comfort in their own homes.

Again, if your product falls in these categories which will improve people’s workspace as they are working more from home, then proceeding with your launch as planned, may not appear opportunistic.

The key is: Don’t be tone-deaf during your marketing. Don’t blindly push your products.

2. Risk vs. reward of launching a new product.

The risk of launching happens when you have a product that may not be a necessity right now. If you are launching a product that makes you appear tone deaf, then your company and brand may be affected.

Another risk to consider is if your product is not a necessity, consumers are holding on to their cash as there is a lot of insecurity around jobs.

With unemployment on the rise, there is a reduction in consumer spending.

The final risk is that some consumers are conflicted ethically, as home deliveries require those in distribution centres and drivers to go out into the world during a time when we are being told to stay home.

The rewards are large if you are launching a product or service that will help others get through this crisis. As mentioned above, working from home, self-care, fitness and human connection are themes that allow brands to strike the right balance.

3. What should you keep doing?

Do continue to send marketing emails.

The benefit of email marketing is that it offers a direct line of communication to your customers and is cost-efficient. It is important to keep the lines of communication open.

Now is not the time to stay silent. Your customers would like to hear from you. When businesses pause for a few months, there is a good chance that they are not coming back.

Also for those retailers who return, they have to restart their marketing all over again, because their customers often move on to their competitors. Companies need to communicate directly with their customers especially if your business has closed.

The fact is there are more eyes on your product now because people have more time.

4. Other Marketing

Consider other marketing tools, such as print because that can make a company’s marketing appear more thoughtful to a captive audience at this point in time.

Being home, can make what comes in the mail feel really special. We are limited to what’s on TV so receiving mail has a notable feel.  This could be a moment in time for the return of the mailbox.

When you are thinking of launching, it is best to work with the data you have already collected from your existing customers; whether it is through email, print or digital marketing.

5. How much is lost by delaying your launch?

“I think it’s about being really smart about hitting the right consumer product spaces at the right time ~ J. Paul

The loss is already immense for many businesses in different industries. Every industry right now has been affected and is experiencing the unknown, with possible supply chain issues and the closing of many businesses.

Delaying necessary products that can help your customers is not selfish.
Finally, whether you are launching during a pandemic or not, The Rotary Four Way Test is worth considering.

Is it the Truth?

Is it Fair to all concerned?

Will it build Goodwill and better friendships?

Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?

Let me know if you have delayed your product launch or continued?

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