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They Beat Us To It!
We’ve all been there, one of your competitors or a start-up company launched a new product that is creating a lot of buzz. It might be so novel that it opened a new product format within your industry. Even more frustrating is when you were working on a similar effort but your competitor launched theirs first! Is all of your hard work wasted? Is your product doomed to failure? Of course not. Push that disappointment and frustration aside because you now have a great opportunity ahead of you.
When a new product launches, initial reactions can be wide ranging from shock, to finger pointing, to high levels of pessimism. Typical comments could include: “That new product is way better than ours, we’ll lose market share.” “How can we compete when they keep rolling out new products?” “What are we going to do?”
The reality of the situation is that new products launch practically every day. Statistics show that very few of them completely upset the market and prevent competition. It may take some time to respond, but there are always ways to react; the key is to proceed in a manner that best benefits your company’s strategy and goals.
What are the options when an unexpected competitive threat appears?
Short-term options could include creating a me-too product or offering revamped versions of one of your current products. Countering quickly to a competitive threat might not be the best option. In fact, responding too quickly could mark a brand as a follower, impacting its image. Take some time to analyze the situation and consider all viable options. Your best short-term option might be to do nothing at all.
To reduce the impact of surprises in the future, your long-term strategy should include a healthy mix of continuous improvement of your existing product line up along with exploration into new products that could cannibalize your current offerings. Consider exploring internal and external industry experts for sources to grow your pipeline of products. If something is going to disrupt your current portfolio of products, do everything you can to ensure it is one of your new ideas.
New product launches can be severe competitive threats, but with careful analysis, a well-constructed reaction, and strategic pipeline planning, you might find they are not as bad as first imagined.