Despite its proven value in product launches, PR spending remainslow

BOSTON: The lucrative product-launch market is spending only 11% of

its budget on PR - yet a new study says PR is the leading indicator of a

launch's success.



According to a study by Schneider & Associates of 91 product launches,

brand creators are underutilizing and underfunding PR.



With 31,000 new products launched in 2000 in the consumer packaged-goods

arena alone, product launches are up more than 19% in the past year and

more than 116% in the past 13 years. Between 76% and 90% of "highly

successful" product launches involve a PR firm to help with planning and

execution.



For "less successful" launches, PR was used in only 60% of cases. But

despite this higher success rate of PR-assisted launches, only 44% of

the new-product teams responding to the survey reported that they used

PR firms.



The Schneider study - which defines a highly successful launch as one

with satisfactory market performance in the opinion of the survey

respondent - includes input from such successfully launched brands as

Brita from Clorox, Dirt Devil from Royal Appliance, and Mentadent from

Unilever.



Joan Schneider, president of Schneider & Associates, said those highly

successful launches were different from most others because their core

teams included PR people from the start. A core team usually consists of

R&D, operations, engineering, marketing, manufacturing, and brand

personnel.



PR is often relegated to a secondary external team along with - and

often after - a promotions firm and advertising agency.



"People don't think about PR until they're nearly ready to launch the

product, which is really too late," said Schneider. "Ad agencies were

brought in between one and thee years prior to a launch to consult with

the companies, and the PR people were brought in only about 10 to 12

months beforehand."



Of the overall marketing budget, PR spending is usually 11%. By

contrast, survey respondents said they usually spent 40% of their budget

on consumer advertising and 30% on trade advertising. The remainder is

spent on trade events and merchandising.



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