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Social is the most important channel for product launches, claims research

When you think of product launches, you may imagine glitzy launch events where people actually get together. But like many other forms of marketing, new product launches are now concentrated in the virtual world. According to research by marketing agency Five by Five, social is now the most important channel for launches, with three-quarters (74%) of marketers prioritising social media over the next most popular channels which are sales promotion, email, press and PR.

Discussing why social media takes the lead, James Roles, sales and marketing director at Five by Five, says: “It is because of its ability, via the creation of shareable content and social engagement, to create a groundswell of interest in a brand before it hits the shelves, in a way that no other channel can match.”

Roles says that social is also important before the product is announced: “Nearly two-thirds of the marketers we spoke to said that they use social listening to inform and support new product development. Not only can you spot gaps for growth, and markets ripe for launching – but it can be a more cost-effective way of gathering in-house data and insights, meaning spend with external research agencies can be reduced. The platform also allows for brands to soft launch a product – testing and tweaking as the campaign develops, something you aren’t able to do with a traditional above-the-line approach.”

Other key findings

  • 63% think launches now cost more
  • 81% say the average time between the idea first originating and launching has shrunk, 70% say they only have six months or less to prepare
  • However 88% say that they can make better-informed decisions
  • 72% think creativity has got braver
  • Lack of budget (45%), ineffective communications (40%) and slow processes (38%) are the biggest threat to successful launches

Looking at other ways product launches are evolving, Roles says they are becoming more streamlined. “We found that whilst deadlines have got tighter, and launch campaigns more expensive – the array of tools available to marketers means that we are more informed about launches than ever. This has led to launch campaigns that are braver, smoother and more effective.”

Threats to launches

It also seems there may be fewer product launches these days, Roles says: “The research also showed that along with a lack of budget and ineffective marketing communications, laborious internal processes can mean that launches sometimes fail to get off the ground. As launches become more multi-faceted, effective communication internally is crucial for success.”

Looking forward, Roles says that internal processes need to be less complicated, or they can ruin a product launch before it gets going. “Overcoming slow corporate processes and a lack of solid internal communication are now more important than ever. It only takes one break in the chain to jeopardise the whole process. If customer-facing teams aren’t fully aware of the launch and brought into the process early enough, this may impact negatively on the customer experience.”

More launches may be focused on social, but the strategy behind the launch still follows a traditional route. It needs to pull together different marketing expertise, from events to media relations, and make sure that everyone involved is clear about the objectives and able to provide an integrated campaign that is consistent as well as exciting and creative.


Five by Five commissioned Dipsticks Research to conduct qualitative and quantitative research into launch marketing with senior marketers in the UK, USA, and Australia.

All three countries and a wide range of sectors were represented in both the qualitative and quantitative studies. Qualitative interviews were held with 10 senior marketers in each territory, while the quantitative survey was completed by 730 senior marketers.

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