We’re wrapping up our #LBCWantsToKnow series for January with a quick meditation on timing around product development planning for makers. Each month, I ask my Instagram community to join me in a focused, crowd-sourced discussion on a specific subject. For the month of January, we’ve been rolling up our sleeves to chat about the beginning of the year planning. And no discussion about strategic planning would be complete without thinking about product development and how to time product launch cycles.
Product Development Planning for Makers
THE LUCKY BREAK COMMUNITY SAID…
- rockcreeksoaps: We are super excited about a launch we’re putting out in about 2 weeks!
- stellachroma: We released a hand cream and coffee body polish at the end of last year. We’re going to sit on those for a while. We’re focusing on GMP this year.
- zhibathandbody: I’m helping my kiddos launch their line of natural pet products. They say the dog deserves better…yay for them! And as for me…FINALLY working on natural deodorant.
- shopmilked: I want to release home fragrances. Wax melts and/or candles. I’m kinda freaking out about it because there is just so much to learn about waxes + wicks.
- gavinluxe: We’re launching a Love candle in about 2 weeks.
- glohairandskinboutique: Scared and excited all roles into one. I’m a new business owner venturing into the world of hair and skin care.
- mistybluebotanicals: We are releasing an emulsifying facial cleansing balm that we’ve been working on for about six months now. I’m really thinking (crossing fingers) this is “the one” product that will launch us to the next level. Also launching a line of FarmSpa candles to compliment our skincare range, so very busy 1st and 2nd quarters.
- guildedoliveapothocary: I’m planning on releasing 2 more soaps. Lucy is a loofah & mint bar that will launch in June and Maxine is an Orange-Clove seasonal for October.
HERE ARE MY THOUGHTS…
One of the most pivotal decisions we can make for our brands is what products we’ll release and when they’ll launch. Product development planning for makers is a must. That’s especially true when it comes to creative brands who are keen to see their products on store shelves, as “new” is the lifeblood of wholesale. Many of us need a nudge to get ahead of the product development train because falling behind it is surprisingly easy to do!
Here’s a simple hack for remembering the optimum time frame for a product launch: watch the trade shows. When is your cue to push new products? When you see major trade show activity for your product category. The trade show rhythms are intentionally established based on key timing when retailers have robust OTB budgets (“open to buy”). These buying seasons have been around for decades. Savvy makers take them into consideration when planning product development and marketing cycles.
For many product categories, trade shows happen in the late January/ early February time frame and early August (think: NY Now, Americas Mart, Las Vegas Market, etc.). The National Stationery Show has traditionally been held in late May. This meant that the release cycles for the paper industry were different than many others. This includes broader categories of gifts, personal care, jewelry, housewares and the like. But with the recent merger of the NSS show with NY Now, we have yet to see how the windows for launching paper goods will ultimately be impacted.
Launch your new products so that they’re in sync with your industry. You can then create an internal timeline for development by working in reverse from that launch date. Use these prompts to create a step-by-step guide to developing new products.
- Target launch date
- Adding products to the website
- Open wholesale pre-ordering
- Creating product images
- Designing graphics to promote the launch
- Create a marketing launch plan
- Draft product description and marketing materials
- Design packaging, label, tags, and/or boxes
- Source packaging components
- Complete product development
- Design a cost analysis and establish target pricing
- Create samples
- Source vendors or raw materials
- Survey the competitive landscape to understand the market
- Conceptualize the product
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Be sure to stop by the Lucky Break Instagram, where every month we chat about all things business. I’d love to hear your thoughts and I hope you’ll lend your voice. Search the #LBCWantstToKnow hashtag to weigh in! In February, we’re diving into wholesale.