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Guide to a Successful International Product Launch Strategy

Launching a successful product or service globally relies on having a tailored launch strategy which is sympathetic to local cultures, habits and needs while offering economies of scale. Audience insight is therefore an essential part of developing an effective strategy. 

With 95% of new product launches reportedly failing because of ineffective audience segmentation, understanding your audience on a global scale is key. 

According to a Harvard Business Review article, failure to launch a new product is typically the result of poor preparation. With companies so focused on the product itself, they often spend very little time trying to understand the market and attempt to link the product to consumer needs too late. Mitigating these risks starts with solid and localised consumer understanding.

The importance of understanding local audiences

What might appeal to 20-year-olds in Japan may not resonate with the same age group in Brazil because their cultural context and habits are most likely different. Even in an age where global brands and trends thrive because of the omnipresence of social media, cultural context remains an important influence on brand adoption. 

While traditional consumer research is often favoured, social media listening offers an effective way to research consumers across a large number of countries and geographies consistently and based on unprompted opinions. Uncovering insights for each market requires the analyst to be immersed in the language and culture to ensure the insights derived are relevant and add that all important context. 

Local analysts will help identify needs, habits and perceptions of the category and, last but not least, the language used by consumers in that local market. Using the right consumer language ensures that relevant positioning and consumer messaging can be developed. Native language analysts also provide nuanced audience insights and create a deeper level of understanding. So, how do you make this detailed consumer understanding actionable?


Understanding Customer Personas

buyer persona

Developing customer personas and not just demographic archetypes is core to positioning your product correctly and communicating with chosen audiences based on their needs.

Linking your product’s features and benefits to these needs will help create a connection with consumers, so an intimate understanding of their attitudes, behaviours, current purchasing and consumption, lifestyle habits and sources of influence help create actionable persona pen portraits. Personas created from data used for media planning have the advantage of allowing for much finer media and advertising targeting. Again, local insights will be crucial to enrich these consumer personas and guarantee their relevance to the geography.

Social media listening can provide incredibly detailed pen portraits through the use of ethnographic techniques at scale.

Analyse the Customer Journey

Social media listening is a useful tool for customer journey mapping, helping you to understand the stages of your buyer’s journey, including how consumers become aware of your product and key influences in the decision-making process. With Zero Moments of Truths (ZMOTs) being significantly influenced by social media, there is no better place to start analysing this journey.

When launching a service, it is also useful to map customer journeys for existing solutions or services and benchmark this against your planned customer journey. Picking apart the journey your customer may have before purchasing your product or service can reveal any potential pain points and identify where you might perform better than your competition. Again, this process is about understanding where process improvements can be introduced before the launch to limit potential barriers to purchase.

Especially in a digital context, customer journey mapping highlights the channels of communications that drives awareness and influences consideration. 

Get to Know Your Competitors

Understanding your competitors’ positioning and messaging is definitely a good place to start. Gauging their target audience and whether they are targeting them effectively can potentially help identify gaps. This combined with detailed consumer understanding may help zero in on unmet needs.

Convosphere’s Competitive Intelligence methodology: Conduct social media listening on own and competitor brands to understand overall brand performance, changing user perception, key challenges and unmet needs.

It is also useful to analyse the digital presence of your competitors, including their social media channels, web content, user experience as well as SEO and SEM tactics. This will help inform your marketing activity around the launch and contribute to establishing what ‘good’ potentially looks like in terms of content and forms benchmarks to assess the impact of your campaign. 

Investigating how other brands launched their products and their impact will help your own campaign. Social media listening is an ideal way to evaluate the impact of past product launches because historical data makes light work of analysing past events, with social media conversations being accessible for the past decade. Analysing your competitors’ brand performance can show what creates positive and negative perceptions helping you refine your positioning and messaging.

Establish Meaningful KPIs

Measuring the impact of your launch starts with establishing meaningful KPIs. While it may seem obvious, it is important to highlight that KPIs should be linked to impact and desired outcomes and, as mentioned above, benchmarking these KPIs are essential to making them meaningful. Setting them at the appropriate level is also important. This will be partially dictated by your market sector or product category and will differ by geography, so establishing global and local versions should be part of your measurement framework. 

While sales is no doubt on your consideration list already, awareness is probably the next most measured KPI when it comes to brand performance for both new and existing brands because they are linked to purchase consideration and conversion into sales as described in the purchase decision funnel

Benchmarking your brand’s impact against historical launches can be effective as long as market influences and seasonality are taken in consideration. Social Media listening can provide early indication of how your launch is performing with social media mentions being a good indicator of awareness, while more detailed analysis of conversations can provide estimates of consideration and trial. Moreover, social media listening can be used as a source of qualitative feedback around product features and overall perception. Such early indicators can be crucial for course correction when a launch is not as successful as expected.

To help plan your product launch or to gather invaluable data and insights on your audience, contact us today.