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November 9, 2007

PRODUCT LAUNCHES 2: The measure of success

With marketplaces across all sectors becoming increasingly crowded, it has never been more important to get a product launch right. Building in a live experience is a great way to get your target audience fully engaged with the product, while also delivering key information and brand messages in an effective way.

The problem is that live launches are not cheap, particularly these days when it’s more important than ever to really wow an audience. Justifying the expense at board level is, therefore, vital, which means proving the success of live launches through measurement. But how can you go about doing this?

“The true return on investment of any live product launch comes not from the number of consumer touchpoints or experiential reach, but from the complete amplification and exploitation of the content it creates,” explains Nigel Scott, creative director at live marketing agency Out of the Blue Communications. “This comes back to the objectives that are set at the beginning of the campaign. PR coverage is a very natural winner of an experiential campaign and the effectiveness of a product launch is very often measured in the column inches generated. Similarly, many experiential campaigns are designed around the need to touch a given number of consumers for a fixed price per head. The role of the experiential agency is to deliver on this objective. Obviously, this could dramatically alter the style of the campaign.”

Changing behaviour

The other key measure of effectiveness is the ability of the campaign to actually alter consumer behaviour.

“Research by live marketing agency Jack Morton Worldwide in 2005 has shown that an experience is more likely to ‘drive a quick purchase’ than either advertising or direct mail, and more likely to drive purchase consideration than advertising, across all ages,” says Scott. “We have seen the impact of this in campaigns for both O2 and the launch of their i-mode phone, where we saw sales of the product soar in Birmingham over the weekend of our activity when they had been lower in the previous two weeks. Similarly, a campaign we created for a charity drove a massive increase in calls to its helpline and visits to the doctor. These latter results were consistently high over the entire three years of the campaign during a time when there was no other form of communication going on.”

According to Scott, effectiveness comes from the complete integration of the experience into the overall marketing campaign. A highly effective example of this is the work Out of the Blue did in leading the experiential parts of the Lynx Bom Chicka Wah Wah Rally, which involved the launch of a new style of can and formula for the grooming brand aimed at young males.

The live elements of the campaign took the trend of user generated content and asked Lynx consumers to film themselves demonstrating their best ‘moves’ to impress ‘the ladies’ in the hope of winning a place at the Bom Chicka Wah Wah rally in Miami. Young hopefuls entered via the website lynxplayers.com or auditioned through a touring audition lounge hosted by the Lynx Mynxes – a group of young female models. Called the Lynx Players Lounge, the roadshow experience toured four key UK regions during March and April this year.

The campaign avoided sexism tags by very much playing for laughs and putting the Mynxes firmly in charge, as it was they who judged the videos, resulting in a number of regional heats. The winners competed in the Lynx Bom Chicka Wah Wah Rally, held in Miami over four days in May.

Wide-ranging impact
One of the best ways to appreciate the power and effectiveness of this experiential product launch is to look at the supporting marketing activity. A 60-minute spin off TV show based around the campaign attracted audiences that were 53% bigger than average for the timeslot it occupied. Meanwhile, the Bom Chicka Wah Wah PR campaign managed to get the competition mentioned in more than 200 articles. What’s more, a specially created microsite attracted more than 400,000 unique visitors over a three-month period. All of which led to an increase in sales, not just in the new formula, but also across the Lynx deodorant range.

Another example of a successful experiential product launch was that for Branston Baked Beans, which was created by live communications agency Sense. Although based around sampling the product, it took the important step of adding more interactivity and ownership for its audience by getting customers to sample different brands of baked bean and vote on their favourite. Clearly, The Great British Bean Poll, as it was called, could have gone against the Branson brand, but fortunately this was not the case.

Bean counters
The aim was to sample 750,000 UK consumers and provide independently audited results ready for a national TV campaign eight weeks down the line. Ten regional teams invaded 300 grocer sites in fully refurbished branded taste units with touch screen voting booths. The results were quite staggering. More than 750,000 people took the taste challenge and 76% preferred Branston Beans. Consequently, sales increased by 900% on average on the day the poll took place with a 7.1% penetration into the market within 12 weeks, considerably above the target of 4%. Research also revealed a 26% repeat purchase rate. What’s more, the campaign went on to become the Grand Prix winner at the 2006 Institute of Sales Promotion awards.

The results of these highly creative product launches speak for themselves, not only revealing the effectiveness of using experiential marketing, but also just how well the results can be measured. And each played a key role in a broader integrated campaign.
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