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How to launch like a legend

How to launch like a legend

Queues snaking around venues; fever pitch hysteria; fights and punch-ups.  It’s images that you’d maybe expect at a rock gig. But at a clothes store?

Primark, Topshop and Abercrombie and Fitch have just pulled off some of the most impressive store or line launches in recent memory. They've also been doing their bit to revive the excitement that the retail business in the west end of London used to stand for.

So how have these brands managed to be so successful that police helicopters have to be called in? Here's our top tips on how to make like bandits and launch like a legend:

1. Enlist a celebrity to help

Topshop have dropped a rumoured £3 million into la Moss's already bulging handbag. Is it worth it?  In PR value alone, we think they're already pretty close to getting their money back.

Michael Frohlich, the MD of Resonate PR said "with blanket TV, newspaper and radio coverage, both in the UK and overseas, Topshop are likely to gain over £3million in PR value over the course of the relationship".

On top of that, there is the longer-lasting benefit of the association with Kate Moss to the brand equity of Topshop, creating a halo-effect on their other products. Even a small percentage rise in the value of the brand would equate to a seven figure sum.

So before a single slimline waist-coat has been scanned through the till, we reckon Topshop are well ahead on the deal. £3 million? She would have been cheap at twice the price.

See what utalk users have to say in the forums.

See pictures from the opening on Oxford Street.

2. Max the hype 

PR plays a key role in the new product launch, particularly in the youth retail sector. Primark, A+F and Topshop gained acres of PR before their respective launches.

By ensuring that everyone knew when the stores were opening their doors, the retailers guaranteed massive crowds which would self-perpetuate the story through another news cycle.

That's how Primark managed to drive an estimated 50,000 shoppers to their new Oxford Street store on the opening day.

PR played a critical role in the low-key operation, building awareness and expectation in the press. Fashion editors knew well in advance that the new store was coming and the press office was left with only a reactive role to play, dealing with enquiries.

Head of External Affairs, Geoff Lancaster, said, “How to generate the power of word is mouth is the million dollar question we get asked time and time again. The most important thing is to get your proposition right.”

That image of Primark's front doors hanging of their hinges is a marketers dream, and a perfect illustration of the success of the "Primarni" look that the company has been so successfully spinning.

Read more on Primark.

3. Create pent-up demand

All of the most recent retail successes have been characterised by huge demand which had no alternative route to satisfy them.

For Abercrombie and Fitch, it was impossible to buy clothes without going to the USA. For Primark, there was no store in central London, and few in the South East.

Creating excess demand for your new product is now an acknowledged marketing tactic, used by people like Sony and Nintendo. 

It helps with the PR hype, makes consumers feel more special when they get hold of the product and boosts brand equity.

Then concentrate all that demand into a single opening day, with some extra rumour-mongering like discount prices or celebrity appearances and you've got the perfect recipe for a bonannza. 

4. Deliver to the promise

To be fair to the three retailers, they all deliver. The Kate Moss collection has won decent reviews from consumers. The new Abercrombie store is darker than Batman's cave, but there it's well done and the clothes are good.

Having the hype is all very well, but if you don't deliver, it's the quickest way to go out of business. You'll destroy all of the equity you have built up, and more besides.

We visited A+F and Primark this morning, and they're still extremely busy.

Take these four points on board, and we reckon all you'll need to do next is count the money.  


Have you got any hints you've learnt launching new products? Write them below.

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