How Do You Introduce New Products?

by Paul Schlossberg
Posted On: 12/7/2018

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  Paul Schlossberg
New products are very important to your business. Initial purchases accelerate as our shoppers notice something new and then decide to give it a try.

We've written about this subject many times in articles and blogs. It's something which is often included in my presentations at trade shows and conferences.

What brought this subject to my mind today was a posting at the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) Daily News Feed. The headline New Espresso Experience Arrives at Dunkin' announced a new product introduction and sampling event at Dunkin' restaurants. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16, at participating stores, while supplies last, there will be free samples (4 fl. oz. each) of Carmel Flavored Iced Latte. On Saturday, Nov. 17, the offer will be repeated with samples of White Chocolate Flavored Ice Latte. Dunkin' is also introducing Iced Cappuccino and Iced Americano. Dunkin' first introduced espresso in 2003.

This reintroduction by Dunkin' presents a good idea for our industry. We have to get better at how we manage new product introductions. We cannot be satisfied simply stocking products in our vending machines or on micromarket shelves. Doing that makes us a provider of a "food pantry." We have to do more, a lot more. For example:

1. Signs: How can we highlight and feature new items on our shelves? Think about what you see in supermarkets and convenience stores. What do they do to feature new items? How can you adapt those ideas at your locations? Have you used 'shelf-talkers' to point out a new item?

2. Social media: You should always have a "What's new!" alert. Make it a priority to do that on your Facebook page and other platforms.

3. Sampling: We've all probably tasted food products in supermarkets and at many other venues. You need to learn how to do it at your locations. Even at unattended sites, there are solutions you can use. It's much easier to accomplish now with the sophisticated digital tools available to us.

4. Merchandising and placements: For a micromarket, have you learned how to be effective with end cap displays? Are you deploying under-counter merchandising shelves? More importantly, where do you place specific product categories to maximize sales? This is a process of skill and art. Firmly set in my memory is the day I worked on a Frito-Lay route with a veteran driver. His skills in setting the shelves are lessons which continue to resonate for me when involved in a merchandising project.  

By the way, all of these tools work equally well to revitalize (or reintroduce) an established product. Don't forget that there are seasonal opportunities, too, when you can feature products. Two well-known seasonal items re-introduced with great success are the Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbucks and the McRib® from McDonald's. Both companies have learned how to maximize the reintroduction of these seasonal items. Why can't you do the same thing when you bring back popular items as the seasons change?

Focus on new products. Find new ways to market and merchandise new products. Apply those same techniques to revitalize products when sales slip from previous highs. As you improve your merchandising skills, you will be on the right path to sell more stuff.  



» Paul Schlossberg is president of D/FW Consulting, working with clients to merchandise and market products in impulse-intense selling environments, such as vending, onsite foodservice and convenience stores. Based in the Austin, TX, area, he can be reached at Paul@DFWConsulting.net or (972) 877-2972 or www.DFWConsulting.net.