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Outdoor

Timing is Everything: Introducing a New Outdoor Product When it Counts

Posted by Eric Sivertsen on Jul 21, 2016 9:18:24 AM

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Building excitement over time. Getting product in the hands of reviewers and key press reps. Testing the product to make sure it's free of defects. A lot goes into a new outdoor product launch.

But one element of a launch that can make or break your exciting new firearm, hunting accessory or hiking apparel is timing. And this means more than just time of day and day of the week - from buyer habits to travel traditions, there are plenty of factors that go into selecting the best time to launch a new outdoor product.

Buyer Seasonality

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how easy it can be to forget about your most important factor in a product launch - customer buying behavior. Outdoor buyers, depending on whether you're a firearm manufacturer, a custom knife designer or a distributor of hiking or camping gear, have a great degree of buyer seasonality.

For firearms businesses, potentially due in part to shooting sports like hunting, sales of guns tend to spike in the late fall and winter and see a significant dip, historically, in the summer months. Make sure you're considering these trends as you're plotting out your next product launch - consumers buy predictably, so take advantage.

Holidays

When it comes to holidays, not all are particularly ripe for a product launch. In fact, depending on your reach, globally speaking, you may have to make considerations for domestic product launches you wouldn't overseas, and vice versa. For example, Europeans take time off from work at different times of year than Americans and maybe be less likely to receive your promotional emails and notifications.

Then again, some holidays lend themselves to outdoor product launches - just last year the firearm industry saw a record-breaking uptick in Black Friday sales as holiday shoppers flocked to pick up gun gifts, jumping 24 percent from the previous year. Know your audience - a fishing enthusiast might be out of town at a tournament Fourth of July weekend, but he or she might be in search of the newest lure launch in the weeks leading up to that holiday.

Overpromising, Underdelivering

Everyone loves a sneak peek. Teasers leading up to a product launch are pretty standard practice across all industries, and particularly the ravenous outdoor consumer base that's looking for the next best thing to add to their collections. The biggest misstep you can make in a teaser, though, is rushing yourself. Be realistic about your expectations and don't promise a launch date that you can't guarantee will happen. One of the fastest ways to lose interest from your fans is to say "Coming July 2016" and then finally getting it in the public's hands in September.

The longer your customers are left waiting after a promised launch date, the more skeptical they'll be of the product's overall quality and effectiveness. Don't forget to factor in product testing, legal review and marketing development when deciding a launch date. If all else fails, keep the launch date to yourself and stick with vague "Coming Soon" or "Coming This Year" language - but if your launch plan is sound and unflappable, build excitement with a more specific teaser date.

Time of Day

Holiday aren't the only timing element affecting international product launches - when you're dealing with a variety of timezones in your consumer base, don't forget to cater to either your most likely buyers or stagger your rollout. You don't want to launch a product worldwide (or even nationwide for the matter) at a time of day or day of the week in which your customers are away from their phones or fast asleep.

But speaking of phones, the traditional email-checking habit statistics (the 10 a.m./2 p.m. rule) have started to fall apart in recent years, as people who check their email at all tend to be plugged into their inboxes frequently throughout the day, rather than just certain times of day. Build your outdoor product launch communication strategy more around actual actions being taken - recent studies have found particularly active mobile users in the late evening hours, with the highest click-through rates landing on Mondays and Fridays. Every company has slightly different customer habits - A/B test your communication timing to best determine your own highest potential for ROI.

Sources: Time Magazine, The Guardian, Experian, ExactTarget

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