Expanding Your Business with New Product Lines

In 2011, Vancouver-based lifestyle brand, Herschel Supply, sold 8,000 of their trademark bags to an extremely receptive, but mostly local market. Just six years later, they’ve already sold their 15 millionth bag, expanding to service a global audience in over 100 countries.

Besides an extremely savvy use of social media to market their products, owners Jamie and Lyndon Cormack have proved experts at identifying gaps in the market and launching new product lines to fill them, highlighting one of the quickest ways entrepreneurs can grow their business.

Establishing new product lines has proved time and again to be one of the most effective ways to grow. Unfortunately, the failure rate is believed to be as high as 80 per cent in some market sectors, so it can prove a risky endeavour without undertaking due diligence. No new product launch is a guaranteed hit, but you can set yourself up with the best chance of success by taking the following issues into account.

Identify the Gap

The starting point for any successful product launch is to identify the gap your product will fill. If nobody wants or needs the product you’re providing, it’s pointless to take it to market. First, a broad look should be taken at your potential competition and the products they offer. Is it possible to improve upon what’s out there? How could you achieve this? Test your ideas with tried and true market research, looking at the potential new product, the price, quality, and even packaging.

Know Your Audience

Building a profile of your target market is another vital early step in taking a new product to market. The most successful product launches involve targeting specific customers in a very specific way. Build out demographic details about your “ideal” customer such as their age, gender, marital status, occupation, and income. How do they spend their free time? What hobbies do they have? Understanding your customer will help you market your product to them efficiently.

Listen to Feedback

No matter the size of a company, a willingness to listen to customer feedback plays a vital role in continuing success. Take the example of Instagram. When the app started out in 2010, it bore very little resemblance to the ubiquitous photo-sharing giant of the present day. Instead, it went by the name Burbn, and users could check in at a location, use it to make plans, and do some basic photo uploading. After a year of very little traction on the app store, founder Kevin Systrom pivoted based on customer feedback, simplifying the app to concentrate on the photo sharing aspect users were interacting with. Instagram soon took off, with early users directly guiding the runaway success that followed. Soliciting feedback from your existing customer base is one of the most important and simple ways to refine a product.

Spread the Word

Legendary showman P.T. Barnum once said: “Without promotion, something terrible happens… nothing!”. 150 years later, those words prove evergreen, with marketing playing a pivotal role in the launch of any new product or service. The only difference? The way the message is conveyed has radically shifted, encompassing social media, digital advertising like Google AdWords, influencers, and even a well-crafted pitch to media outlets. It’s possible to get your message out there without breaking the bank, you just need to leverage a little imagination, and some Barnum-style showmanship.

Here to Help

No matter what stage of business, or what problem you face, Small Business BC offers a range of seminars and one-on-one advisory sessions to suit any business.

View More Articles