What makes a strong consumer insight?

Marketing strategies are always likely to experience an element of trial and error, but if a particular strategy isn’t working and simply fails to have the predicted impact, you may need to make changes to improve performance. Although there are several ways of doing this, understanding the wants and needs of the target audience is a logical way of ensuring that your marketing strategy connects with the chosen demographic.

A proven way of carrying out this process is through using consumer insights to analyse reliable data and understand the wants, needs and behaviours of your target audience.

What is a consumer insight?

Used as a baseline for how marketing strategies are carried out, a consumer insight is a form of data based on the actions of specific demographics that can inform and influence a business’ approach to certain exercises.

By using data in this way, a company can achieve a deep and thorough understanding of their target audience. Consumer insight is different from simple observations as it can identify specific shopping behaviours, filter results by several factors including the industry and product type, and offer changes that can be actioned to improve the performance of marketing strategies.

A member of a business’ marketing team creating consumer insights.

What is consumer insight data?

Data used for formulating consumer insights can come from a number of different areas. Your chosen area is likely to be based on the specific need for the data matched with a source that is accurate, up to date and reliable.

Consumer insight data may come from programmes that offer an understanding of performance in regards to the individual website data using Google Analytics. It also comes from sales data, surveys, focus groups, product reviews on websites, loyalty card data, customer services feedback and social media data.

How to create consumer insight

If creating consumer insights could truly benefit the performance of your marketing strategy, it’s important to find the most effective method for your business. Fortunately, consumer insights are available in a number of forms and applicable to a selection of industries, so you’re given some level of freedom with how you choose to source consumer insights.

When it comes to approaching consumer insights, you should:

Analyse each piece of data separately –

Regardless of the programme or method you use, consumer data is likely to offer many different areas for you to analyse. However, while each section may offer useful details over how your target audience functions and behaves, it could be the case that just one of these pieces of data tells you what you need to know.

It can be easy to get carried away with the potential benefits of a seemingly endless selection of facts and figures but, providing the data is reliable, every insight is crucial. As such, even an individual piece of data alone could have a significant impact on the success of your marketing strategy.

Answer core questions –

Instead of focusing on the process of gathering consumer insights, it may be more beneficial to prioritise the questions you need answers to and use that as a basis for finding the data you need.

For instance, if sales figures are down, consumer behaviour is likely to indicate why. If a business is hoping to target a new area of their audience, these new demographics may be identified based on certain sets of data. Alternatively, if the brand is set to go through a restructure, certain pieces of information could give hints at what the target consumer would be most likely to engage with.

Add context to the data –

Without some level of context and logic, it could be the case that the data you find is practically useless. However, you could align the data alongside other components such as the goals of your strategy and other behavioural data to find a context that broadens your understanding of the insights.

Better understand the consumer –

When combined, different types of consumer data can bring together an outline for what your target audience looks like. Depending on the level of data at your disposal, you may be able to understand who they are, what their priorities are likely to be, what their daily challenges could be, what interests them and specific details in regards to gender, age and other demographics.

Once all of this data is aligned, you’ll be in a good place to better understand the average type of person your strategy is targeting and whether it is completely relevant to them. Then, if it isn’t relevant or impactful and any areas need changing, you should be better informed to make effective alterations.

Focus on the correct data –

Insights can come from any programme that offers data based on the performance of consumers. But with so many options, it’s important that you pick a programme or method that is accurate, reliable and relevant. To do this, you firstly need to understand what data you need and then you can begin to research a platform or process that will provide you with this information.

How to write a consumer insight

Although it may be easy to dismiss the task of writing about consumer insights, it’s actually an important part of the process that will detail your findings and offer a structure for how you’ll look to use the data to make changes to your current marketing strategy. Due to this, how you write a consumer insight is key.

How do you write a consumer insight?

1. Start by briefly explaining the situation you’re focusing on and how consumers are affected by it

2. Then, explain the problem, the dilemma it may be causing to consumers and how they’re being negatively impacted whether it’s physically, mentally or emotionally

3. Finally, provide details over what the consumer’s desired end result is and explain how you can make changes to get them closer to that result.

What is a consumer insight report?

Businesses that have retrieved multiple consumer insights are likely to benefit from creating a document that is full of this data and how it can be used to action effective changes.

All important details are included in a typical consumer insight report such as the business, marketing strategy, key topics, value, objectives and the changes you’re planning on implementing based on the consumer data. Every written consumer insight can then be included along with conclusions, suggestions and any additional comments added by other departments it’s shared with.

Why is trade marketing important?

Prior to the 1990s, manufacturers held all the cards when it came to bringing a product to market and retailers simply had to deal with the process of displaying these products throughout their stores. It would then be a matter of prioritising certain products over competitors based on the popularity of it.

However, trade marketing then became popular in the nineties, leaving retailers in a level playing field to manufacturers and making the act of getting products into the hands of consumers more of a compromise between both parties. As things stand today, retailers hold grounds for negotiating how much exposure a product will have in shops, on shelves and in the eyes of consumers.

What is trade marketing?

Trade marketing covers a suite of activities from initial presentation of a product to the trade customer, through to in-store activities and post-purchase marketing. The activities are bespoke to the retailer and should understand their customer in order to engage and drive sales and loyalty.

A manufacturer agreeing a trade marketing deal with a retailer.

What are trade marketing activities?

Trade marketing activities are negotiated when presenting a product for initial listing, and then redefined every year in a joint business plan, or discussed as the year progresses. At the presentation stage, any pitch should show why the product suits this particular retailer’s customers and how it will grow the category. The supplier should be well versed in the options the retailer has, but also not be afraid to put forward new and innovative ideas.

The idea is to have a strong launch and increase awareness and sales with bespoke activity. Investment should be in line with sales expectations, and within financial parameters set by the supplier. It may be overinvestment for the first 2 years in order to establish the brand, and then this tapers to a lower level. It really depends on the balance of the overall marketing mix and from where sales will be best generated. It is invariably a combination of above the line and in-store activity.

Examples of trade marketing activities a manufacturer may offer will depend on how consumers value the product and the category, and what mechanic is most appealing. These may include include:

Examples of trade marketing activities a retailer may promise to a manufacturer in return:

Why trade marketing is important

Excellent trade marketing allows a brand to stand out, take market share and grow the category. The investment level, creativity of activity and strength of messaging shows intent to work closely with the retailer and drive success for the brand into the future.

Other benefits to trade marketing are that it:

Creates a strong relationship between manufacturer and retailer
Allows the product to have a loud voice to customers, which may or may not match other brands in the category
Compliments above the line marketing, therefore reinforcing the brand message with the consumer
Shows intent to commit to success.

What is a trade marketing strategy?

As with any area of marketing, the process of trade marketing is made easier if you formulate a strategy for it. Through doing this, you can set out an extensive plan for your strategy, as well as goals and opportunities to review and make changes on your plan after set periods of time.

Within a trade marketing strategy, it’s important that you plan ahead, spend time researching before starting the process of implementing your strategy and create a thorough outline of how you want your strategy to look and, ideally, pan out over future months.

What is a trade marketing plan?

A trade marketing plan would be created within the structure of any other form of marketing strategy. However, the key difference is collaboration with the sales team in order to create bespoke plans that meet each retailer’s strategic needs. For example, understanding if a retailer sells at premium prices or is a discounter, if shelf barkers with brand messaging are possible or not, if FSDUs are allowed in store or not etc.

The initial presentation of the brand is critically important in how you have researched, tailored and generated ideas that will truly drive awareness and sales. The retailer doesn’t have elastic shelves and so needs a space donator which should be recommended in the initial proposal. The overall plan must be compelling, and this includes above the line messaging and execution, product packaging, configuration, regulatory compliance and logistics management. Retailers are looking to reduce suppliers and administration, so working with an existing partner like Ceuta Healthcare can overcome this obstacle.

Strong trade marketing plans that continue to innovate and understand changes in consumer behaviour and how the retailer is changing its own strategies engender strong supplier / retailer relationships. Ultimately, this has to drive sales for both parties.

How to extend the product life cycle

Whether your business sells new pharmaceuticals or state-of-the-art prosthetic limbs, fizzy drinks or customer relationship software, the constantly evolving nature of consumer trends and tastes, as well as ever-developing technological advances, mean that you have to be more innovative and creative than ever before when it comes to extending a product’s life cycle.

Understanding the various stages that a product typically goes through and putting strategies in place to increase their longevity is a key part of brand management. However, this is not always as easy as it sounds. To help you out, we’ve put together this handy guide which explores each aspect of the product life cycle, and looks specifically at how businesses can extend these cycles to increase sales and improve bottom lines.

An example of a typical product life cycle

As we discussed in detail in our recent blog ‘What happens if the product life cycle is not monitored?’, a product life cycle is the process each product goes through, starting from its original launch, through its initial sales period and decline, and ending when it is eventually removed or phased out of circulation. Although not all products go through this exact process, the vast majority of new products launched in any industry will almost certainly follow a similar cycle. How long each stage lasts, however, depends on the popularity of the product as well as the strategies a business puts in place to actively prolong the life cycle of the item in question.

In order to determine the best methods of extending a product’s cycle, it is important to understand the individual phrases a product goes through during its life. Using the example of a new, state-of-the-art prosthetic limb, developed and launched by a healthcare company, we can see how the product’s life cycle may play out without any extension strategies put in place:

1. Introduction

After years of research and development, as well as money spent marketing and officially launching the product, the new high-tech prosthetic limb is made available for healthcare organisations and private consumers to purchase.

2. Growth

As sales of the revolutionary prosthetic limb take off, other brands may release similar products in an attempt to seize a proportion of the market. This means a more aggressive marketing approach might be needed to remain the market leader.

3. Maturity

At this stage, the majority of healthcare providers/private individuals that would be interested in purchasing the new prosthetic limb will probably already have done so, or decided against it. This means sales will likely level out, drop or even stop altogether. This is usually due to the market becoming saturated.

4. Decline

In this final stage, the sales of the prosthetic limb have significantly dropped. This stage would typically be triggered by a new, improved prosthetic limb product entering the market, making the business’ older model obsolete, or a very similar product at a much lower, more competitive price. At this stage, the business must decide whether it is time to remove the product from the market all together.

How can the product life cycle be extended?

Although it is certainly safe to assume that the vast majority of newly launched products have a similar life cycle and are destined to go through the same four stages, albeit at different paces, there are ways businesses can intervene and slow the decline of a product, as well as preventing it from becoming obsolete. In order to extend the life cycle of a product, there are a number of strategies businesses can put in place. These simple-to-implement actions and approaches can increase the longevity of a product’s life cycle and drive up sales and profits. Read on to find out more.

How can a business expand its product life cycle?

The product life cycle is flexible, and will be slightly different for every product. This is why each stage should be closely monitored. Only by doing this, continuously innovating and keeping an eye on market developments and trends, will you be able to expand and extend your product’s longevity. Here are the three primary ways your business can look to extend its product life cycle.

– Innovate and add new features
Products reach maturity and then gradually start to decline once the market becomes saturated. For this reason, one way to extend the life cycle of a product is to constantly look for ways to improve, switch up and even differentiate your product from copycat products that have entered the market. This could involve launching an updated version of the product with additional features that meet the constantly changing needs of the consumer or releasing optional extras that are compatible with the original product, revitalising demand.

Examples of this strategy working successfully include the addition of Instagram Stories to Instagram and the annual generational update of Apple’s iPhone. If we take our example of the new prosthetic limb, efforts should be made to improve the product further, perhaps by adding new comfort features, using lighter/stronger materials or even simply launching the product in a range of new colours as a method of keeping the product fresh. This strategy should involve user feedback and the strategy should be put into motion during the first growth/maturity phases of the initial product. This way, you are ready to immediately announce/launch the new features as soon as saturation and decline hits.

– Use bold marketing/advertising campaigns
Regardless of which phase your product is currently in, a creative and properly implemented advertising campaign can work wonders in rejuvenating your product’s image, driving up sales in the process. Although costly, TV adverts, internet/social media campaigns and promotional tools such as sampling to reach consumers can introduce your product to a new generation of potential customers, as well as reminding existing customers why they liked your product so much.

Although typically implemented during the introduction and growth phases of a product’s life cycle, this strategy can also be used during periods of decline to really extend its longevity. For example, Old Spice’s 2010 “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” ad campaign is credited with radically changing the fortunes not only of a product in decline, but also of the entire brand. Similarly, Nike’s original 1988 “Just Do It” campaign not only boosted sales of their flagship sneakers, but also ended up transforming the entire brand from a successful US-based sportswear brand into one of the world’s largest global companies.

To extend the life cycle of our prosthetic limb product, targeted ad campaigns on TV and social media, perhaps using the endorsements of famous paralympians who could use the product, could be a good idea, for example. Free sample products could also be sent to hospitals and physiotherapy clinics where healthcare professionals could show and demonstrate the product directly to potential users. These strategies should be implemented during all four stages of the product’s life cycle.

– Identifying new markets
Finally, Identifying new markets for your product is another great way to potentially extend its life cycle. Perhaps the market you are currently operating in has become saturated or an unexpected economic downturn has impacted on sales? Expanding by launching your product in different countries, for example, can be a great way of boosting sales and reversing through stages of the cycle. Globalisation has made this much easier in the 21st century, and the internet has made reaching all four corners of the globe simple.

As well as looking at new global markets, identifying new markets through diversification is also a good idea. For example, if we take our prosthetic limb product, as well as selling a product that makes everyday life easier for amputees, slightly tweaking the product and innovating in order to make a version of the product also fit for amputees who wish to compete in athletic events opens a completely new market and allows your brand to diversify. Having the ability to unlock these new revenue opportunities can not only extend the life of a product, but also give your entire brand an edge over your competition and better protect your business against unforeseen specific market changes.

How to generate sales online

From healthcare to media, pharmaceuticals to retail, regardless of what industry your business operates in, the fact is that in the 21st century online sales are likely to play a key part in determining whether or not your business is successful. Taking your business online and creating a digital sales presence can be relatively simple – all you need to do is purchase a domain and find the right server provider to host your website. However, when it comes to actually generating and ultimately growing online sales figures in order to succeed, without the right expert knowledge and assistance, it can be a struggle.

With this in mind, here at Ceuta Healthcare, we’ve put together this handy guide to generating online sales. Read on for everything you need to know about sales solutions and using online sales to increase profits and make your business more successful.

How to generate sales for online business

Generating the maximum number of sales possible is clearly key to making your online business successful. However, expanding your customer base and achieving a significant growth in sales can be a challenging and long-term process. In order to set your business up for success, there are a number of ways to generate a steady stream of sales and/or help you identify sales leads from the moment your website goes live.

– Identify your target demographic
The first step of generating online sales and leads is accurately identifying your target demographic. Naturally, your business cannot successfully reach and sell your products and services to the ideal set of customers if you don’t know exactly who they are. Whether you are selling direct to consumers, via a third party or business to business, it’s crucial you do your research and come up with a clear vision of exactly who you want to sell to, where they are located, how much money they have to spend, how they spend their money, and what they look for in a product/service similar to the one you are offering.

– Pick the right forms of marketing
When you have identified your target market, you can start to put together a marketing plan with the aim of getting your products/services in front of the right potential customers. Methods to consider incorporating in your marketing plan include promoting your business on social media, sending free samples to influencers, creating an inspiring product launch, attending industry networking events, investing in pay per click (PPC) advertising and search engine optimisation (SEO) methods, and utilising traditional advertising techniques.

– Build and maintain relationships
Once you have successfully launched your business and made initial contact with potential customers/clients, the key to generating online sales is building, cultivating and maintaining strong relationships. The best ways to do this include offering promotional discounts to your first 100 customers, for example. Additionally, creating consistent communication with potential customers is also key – set up regular email newsletters and connect via multiple social media platforms. This way you can build strong relationships and ensure your business’ products and services are never far from the minds of your target audience.

How to grow online sales

While you should continue to do everything mentioned above to generate online sales as part of an ongoing online marketing plan, in order to actually boost and grow your sales figures, there are a number of small changes you can make to your website. This process is called conversion optimisation, and can be one of the most effective ways to grow online sales.

How to increase online sales conversion rate

Put simply, the aim of conversion optimisation is to increase the percentage of website visitors that become paying customers. After all, if implemented correctly, your online marketing plan – which should include your advertising strategy, digital marketing approaches, social media presence and initially launch – should be driving up traffic to your site. In order to grow sales, you need to work on turning these visitors into paying customers. As a rule of thumb, the average ecommerce conversion rate is only between one and five per cent. With this in mind, if your site’s conversion rate is below two per cent, this is a sign there is lots of room for improvement to grow sales figures.

Here are our top 10 top tips to increase your business’ online sales conversion rate:

1. Think about your copy – ensure your commercial copy is not only compelling but concise and to the point, including key details in the first two sentences. Customers tend to only read the top of pages, skimming the rest. Pages that are full of waffle can be enough to turn customers away.

2. Place your call to action up front – when it comes to saying ‘Order Now’, ‘Buy Now’ or ‘Head to Checkout’, position text in a clear and obvious place to make it as easy as possible for customers to navigate through your site.

3. Don’t ask shoppers to create an account to complete an order – although a good way of collecting useful data, forcing customers to register with your site just to make an order is an unnecessary additional stumbling block and is enough to put some customers off.

4. Can a potential customer get to checkout in three clicks or fewer? – If not, make it happen. The easier it is to purchase from your site, the more people are likely to do so.

5. Include customer testimonials and ratings on your product pages – these can greatly increase credibility and help new customers trust your brand.

6. Think about introducing a live chat feature – a basic live chat option, that is staffed during normal business hours, allows a customer service employee to alleviate any concerns and answer any questions a potential customer who is ‘on the fence’ might have, encouraging them to go ahead with a purchase.

7. Play around with different extras or tie-ins – offering a free gift, free shipping or additional free training, with your products/services may help seal the deal. Experiment with a number of different promotions to see which is most effective – both in terms of conversions and cost.

8. Create ‘abandoned cart’ email follow-ups – if a registered customer has added something to their basket but not checked out, after 24 hours send them an email reminding them of the products in their cart. This could even include a discount or offer to seal the conversion.

9. Optimise for mobile – make sure your website is mobile-friendly. An ever-increasing percentage of online orders are placed using a mobile device, so ensuring your website is as user-friendly as possible is essential.

10. Add point-of-purchase upsell options – although this doesn’t technically improve conversion rates, it does help you increase revenue and grow online sales. Simply add links to related products at the checkout, that can easily be added to to order.

If your business sells pharmaceutical or healthcare products and you are looking to generate more online sales, Ceuta Healthcare can help. Get in touch with us via our Contact Us page to tell us your story and a member of our team will explain exactly how our expert sales solution services could help.

How to launch a product

Ask any modern entrepreneur and it’s likely they will tell you that the launching and marketing of a product is as paramount to its success as the product itself.

When done in an effective manner, a product launch can increase revenue, improve the reputation and recognisability of the company, form new business relationships and – most importantly – bring positive attention to both the company and the product.

How to bring a new product to market

Before you can bring a new product to market, it can help to understand fundamental factors behind this process.

For instance, any business that is looking to launch a product needs to:

A visual representation of a product about to be launched.

How to successfully launch a new product

When it comes to launching your product, there are several factors you can consider to boost how effective the launch is.

Tips for launching a product successfully include:

Approach the launch in a strategic manner –

Setting a strategy around your product launch is only likely to improve your ability to track, monitor and review its success. Your target audience is a good barometer for identifying how you should approach this strategy and what you can to make it as effective as possible.

Once you’ve established your target audience, you can launch your product and build from the ground up, taking into account their response and feedback as it begins to grow. Along with their opinion, those of retail partners, online reviews, key opinion leaders, retail partners, should be taken into account. This should allow you to assess what works, what doesn’t and what you can improve on.

Make a significant impact on social media –

In modern marketing, outreach is a core component in making a product recognisable to your audience. While focusing on traditional methods of outreach via email, advertising and PR, you should gradually formulate a social media presence that is relevant to your product and the target audience it’s looking to engage with. This could even be something you start long before you launch your product to build up followers, test out the impact of your content and populate your platforms with relevant content.

Don’t forget – social media expands to more than just Twitter and Facebook. If you think your target audience is more likely to use Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn or TikTok, put more of an emphasis on these platforms. However, it would be advisable to offer a level of exposure on every mainstream social media platform as a way of covering all bases.

Identify relevant ambassadors for further exposure –

The impact of outreach and a social media presence is sometimes unquantifiable, with word of mouth and the increasing visibility of your brand sometimes reaching further than you can account for. However, another side to this is the use of influencers, public figures and brands, businesses and people that are already popular in the industry you’re looking to enter into.

By forming a partnership with these people, they can point their audience in the direction of your product, whether that’s through a tailor-made video, sponsored post or simply a retweet or share on a social media platform. Not only will getting someone who’s respected in the same sphere as your product to promote it tap in to the audience you’re looking to engage with, but it will also spread a feeling of trust to these people, encouraging them to use your brand and tell like minded friends, family members and colleagues about it.

Build hype around your launch –

Prior to your product launch, you should decide on a suitable date, work towards this date and build a genuine buzz around it. Through videos, imagery, competitions, emails, sponsored posts on social media, your product’s website and social media platforms and exposure from ambassadors and other marketing avenues, you can create hype for your product before it’s even launched and then watch as people show interest in it when it is.

Where relevant, promote your passion and expertise as part of the product’s marketing campaign –

One of many modern trends today is for entrepreneurial business owners to be just as recognisable and widely known as the products they’re looking to market. You should always put the promotion of your product ahead of yourself, but it can be beneficial for your product to make appearances and use these events as an opportunity to market your product.

Conferences, webinars and conventions are common, and as many allow for people to present a talk themselves, you could put yourself forward, give your talk an interesting title and explain the importance and uniqueness of your product, all while selling your product subconsciously to the audience. Then, after this appearance is complete, you can market it online, offer it out to news outlets and use it as proof that you and your business are reputable and that your product is worth talking about.

How to ensure product launch success

The product launch phase can be several months. While many businesses will focus their attention to checking that this period is as effective as possible, the success of a launch often comes into fruition months later. A successful product launch is crucial, and consistent marketing must continue into the future to build awareness, purchase and loyalty. A brand must always merit its place on the retailer’s shelf and is under scrutiny at every range review.

Constantly analyse your data to see what is and isn’t working. Your market will keep changing – consumer behaviours, shopping habits, price sensitivity, new competitors in your space. So, ensure that your brand strategy accounts for these factors and that you remain relevant.  In that way, the life of the brand will continue to extend.

Frequently asked questions around launching a product

If you’re interested in bringing a product to market, it’s likely that you have several questions. These may include:

How long does it take to launch a product?

A product launch typically consists of a vast array of moving parts, and if these varying factors aren’t properly managed, the time it takes to launch your product could be prolonged. Each product is different, and with this in mind, the method of launching a product is also likely to be specific to the product, which may alter the time it takes for it to be launched to market. Enthusiasm to get to market quickly can sometimes miss some crucial steps, so it is critical to take the appropriate amount of time to launch a product that is sustainable into the future.

A checklist of tasks is shown below but is not exhaustive:

How much does it cost to launch a new product?

The cost of launching a new product is likely to vary depending on a number of factors. For example, the cost of production, packaging, shipping, storage, sales, consumer marketing, trade marketing,  legal, regulatory, services that have to be outsourced, agency fees, partnerships with affiliates and influencers,  are all likely to play a part. And as all of these considerations are specific to your product, it can be difficult to put a figure to this process.

If, however, you have an OTC or personal care product that you require help with launching, Ceuta Healthcare can help. All you need to do is get in touch on the ‘Contact Us’ section of our website, explain your product to us and a member of our team will assist you with solutions for launching your product.

What happens if the product life cycle is not monitored?

As soon as a product is developed and released to market, it’s likely that the primary focus will be on the impact it has on consumers and how successful it is in terms of sales. While these are factors that any marketing team would be keen to highlight, the life cycle of a product runs far deeper than whether or not it sees immediate performance.

In any industry, it’s crucial that product and brand management is covered in extensive detail. An important aspect of this is the product life cycle, and by understanding this process and monitoring every involved step, it could be possible to enhance the current performance of a product and extend its lifespan beyond the original timeframe.

What is the product life cycle?

A factor that applies to many products, the product life cycle is the process a product goes through from original release to its eventual decline or the point at which it’s removed from circulation.

It could be that a product is sustainable and lasts a prolonged period of time or, in some cases, it’s expected that a product will eventually reach the end of its life cycle. Although many variables will play a part in the life cycle of any product, reasons for a product life cycle ending could be a distinct drop in sales, other competitors surpassing the product in popularity, saturation in the market or simply a decrease in demand.

a visual representation of a product life cycle

How to calculate product life cycle

Any product has a life cycle that is typically based on four primary stages. These are:

  1. Introduction

When a product has been developed and becomes ready for release into the market, it’s crucial that it is marketed and promoted in a relevant and effective manner. At this point, a company will often invest in a communications campaign which may consist of digital media, social media, TV, print and in-store promotions and activities.

  1. Growth

As sales increase and consumers begin to show an interest in the product, the company may begin to see competition from similar brands and private labels, leading to the need for a more aggressive approach. As such, the company could decide to increase the level of marketing around the product and consider tweaking the current approach until it’s as effective as possible.

  1. Maturity

Once a product reaches the maturity stage, sales will tend to decrease or even stop entirely, often meaning that the demand for the product has been fulfilled or that competitors have entered the space and are more effective, more engaging and provide better consumer value.

The company may consider dropping prices to increase sales or, once again, alter their marketing approach. They may even consider changing the product so it includes new features, improved technology or decide to produce a different version of the same product. In some cases, the company could put an emphasis on different demographics to appeal to a wider audience and gain customers that weren’t previously interested. At this point, less successful competitors are likely to drop out due to the level of competition for this type of product.

  1. Decline

Despite the company’s efforts to keep the product running, decline for some products is inevitable at some point in time. With less of a demand from consumers and a significant drop in sales, the only course of action for the company to take is to drop the price of the product and target the customer demographic that it appealed to the most.

The final stage of the life cycle is make or break for any product. Either the company finds new ways to breathe life into the product that makes it just as relevant, in-demand and popular as it was when it was first released in the introduction stage, or it is retired from the market, completing its life cycle.

How is product life cycle important?

In order for a product to be sustainable, capable of standing the test of time and continuously effective, a product life cycle must be assessed, reviewed and frequently monitored. By focusing this level of attention, crucial changes to the marketing of a product and the product itself can be implemented to further its success, relevance and impact on the target market.

A product cycle is something that a product will go through naturally. But by understanding the process of a product cycle, identifying how it could affect the specific product you’re bringing to market and regularly checking that you’re taking all of the appropriate steps to extend, prolong and potentially even enhance the lifespan of your product, it may be possible to achieve an advantage over competitors in the market.

What is product life cycle management?

For a company to benefit from understanding the life cycle of their product, the process must be managed. Life cycle management isn’t something that can be done through a computer programme or as a one-time audit; it’s an ongoing task that requires regular consideration and the use of a selection of factors.

To manage a product life cycle, a business must consider:

Many businesses will include product life cycle management as part of their marketing activity, but while these companies see the importance of monitoring and frequently reviewing the current state of a product’s life cycle, others may disregard it as being something they can’t control. However, without proper management of a product life cycle, many businesses would have refused to alter their brand based on the demand and feedback of customers or adapt it to suit a natural change caused by trends, popularity, culture or the needs of the target audience.

For example, Netflix originally started as a DVD-renting service that delivered movies and TV shows straight to your door and was designed to compete with Blockbuster and LoveFilm. But, as they moved with the developing times of technology and switched to being an online streaming service, they became the most popular option for watching media content and producing original content globally. Likewise, pharmaceutical companies have needed to remain open to change as new medical supplies, technology and medicines are released to treat recently discovered illnesses and conditions.

How to manage your online presence

In the healthcare industry, it’s crucial that you not only have a strong online presence but also possess a reputation that is compelling enough to encourage potential customers to pick you ahead of close competitors.

Whether it’s a service relating to healthcare or products that promote improved health and wellbeing, companies will look to enhance their online visibility to connect with their audience and communicate brand messaging to stay ahead of competitors.

The seismic shift to online and digital has meant that refusing to adapt is also likely to mean losing your appeal and falling behind. With this in mind, healthcare service providers have looked to develop their online presence and impact to stay ahead of the game and remain relevant in an ever-developing market.

How does online reputation management work?

Online reputation management is the process of carrying out a broad selection of tasks to ensure that your digital image is intact. Whether talking about monitoring mentions of your brand on social media platforms to counteract the detrimental effects negative feedback can have or having a more extensive and robust ‘rep man’ process in place, online reputation management is often used as an all-encompassing term for improving how your audience perceives your online presence.

If a brand suffers negative feedback online, it can be hard to rebuild from the damage it’s caused, especially if the criticism was seen publicly. But by responding in an understanding, respectable and reasonable manner and providing a solution to the individual such as a heartfelt apology and a replacement service or product, it could be that the negative comment is a blip that other customers will easily forget. However, preventing negativity from your target audience by having appropriate platforms for both displaying an online presence and maintaining a reliable, professional and consistent reputation are equally as important factors toward online reputation management.

A customer leaving a review of a brand online.

Why you need online reputation management

According to statistics from online reputation management experts Reputation X, three out of four consumers are more likely to trust a company if it has positive reviews. Even then, it was important that a positive review met certain expectations, with reviews below three out of five stars failing to convert 86 per cent of consumers that saw them.

More specifically, consumer insight specialists Auris stress the importance of having a strong online reputation in the healthcare industry. They claim that, in general consumer matters, 60 per cent of adults will depend on positive reviews before making a choice. Additionally, Auris’ findings suggest that 37 per cent of people will never use the services of a healthcare provider if they’ve suffered negative reviews. Looking at the reasoning behind negative reviews in this sector, Auris claim that the primary factors that have led service users to be disgruntled include communication with an unprofessional or rude customer service agent, an error with invoicing or incorrect details in regards to the customer or the service or product they paid for.

Managing a reputation is far from easy, but the importance of this process can’t be stressed enough. In any setting – be it on the high street or the digital sphere – a negative review or poor overall reputation can, in some cases, be the reason why a brand falls completely out of favour. Tech insight company ReviewTrackers suggests that a negative experience is more likely to prompt a customer review than a positive one. And with Reputation X claiming that 85 per cent of consumers will rely on a customer review as much as the opinion of a friend or family member, it’s no mystery that businesses would put an emphasis on managing their online reputation successfully.

How companies manage their online image

While a positive online reputation is something every type of business would benefit from, it’s an even more pivotal factor for companies in the healthcare industry. Without a certain level of online reputation, it can be hard to generate enough trust for potential customers to use services or buy products, especially if it could be ineffective or negatively affect their health and wellbeing.

Gone are the days of a healthcare provider’s reputation starting and ending with the level of service provided at a doctor’s practice or the quality of products sold in a pharmacy. In modern healthcare, the internet has become a key tool and one that builds trust with customers and represents an online image that appears professional yet approachable. For many, it will not replace the one-to-one personal consultation from a healthcare professional who knows their patent and their medical history, but it is providing a source of information that is credible. As such, the first step that many established healthcare businesses have taken include creating a website and using it – along with relevant social media accounts – as a platform for communicating with customers and displaying the products and services on offer.

What are some ways to manage your online reputation?

As a starting point, it would be advisable that any business enhances their online presence by creating a website and social media channels that reflect the interests of their audience. For instance, if your company is distinguished and focused on a corporate audience, LinkedIn would be best suited, if you want to target a younger audience, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok are more appropriate, and Facebook and Twitter are often universal for any company.

Once every form of online presence has been catered for, you could:

Additionally, it is important to ensure that your brand makes maximum impact in e-stores such as Amazon, eBay, Pharmacy2U, Boots, Superdrug etc.

Key factors that work towards making the presence of a product or brand stand out within an e-store include:

What dictates good category management?

In any sector that requires products to be developed, marketed and sold to consumers, the company that creates the original product must communicate with a team of many different people including retailers and the consumer market, all while staying ahead of the competition.

Whether it’s the healthcare industry, a producer of food or a company that develops household products, a vast selection of considerations work toward the task of getting a product to market and into the hands of customers. But how exactly can a business operate in an effective manner while selling an extensive range of similar products?

One of the most popular methods of selling multiple products is through the use of a functioning category management strategy. Retailers use this mindset every day to correctly associate, for example, toothpaste, mouthwash and floss in the same section in a total oral care approach, and by businesses understanding this approach and using it to their advantage, they can make it possible to section off all products into relevant categories, assess the performance of competitors and heighten sales figures.

What is category management?

Applicable to any industry that focuses on supply and demand, category management is a calculated approach that is implemented to gain an advantage over competitors, develop effective and collaborative relationships and take more control over important investments.

Within this structure, the spend of the business is sectioned into areas that contain a similar selection of products, heightening the business’ opportunity to consolidate and enhance the efficiency of the service being provided and how much it costs to make the sales side of the business function.

two colleagues arranging products as part of category management

What is the category management process?

In the application of category management, a business will typically go through a process made from a number of core principles. These often include:

1. Definition – What are the categories, how are they defined and, as a result, what products fall into this category?

2. Analysis on product delivery from space on shelf – Demonstrate that a product is meeting the needs of each retailer’s specific consumers in terms of positioning and pricing.

Look at the space the product occupies in width and depth, its cash margin to the retailer, its predicted rate of sale backed by compelling in store marketing and consumer marketing plan. Advise what should be taken off the shelf to make room for our product.

3. Changes – Consider making alterations to products from trade customer feedback as they also provide data and insights to how categories work within their stores. Be mindful of having a targeted channel strategy as fits the product.

4. Ongoing application – Watch your category for changes in space allocated, new products entering, retailer change of promotional strategy, changes in consumer behaviour – for example due to economic factors. Range reviews are a time of both opportunity to improve shelf space and position but also to defend your listing.

Why is category management important?

Many businesses choose to implement category management as a way of approaching their company’s procurement process in a strategic manner. Not only does this mean that businesses can conduct in-depth market analysis to determine what their target audience wants, but also use this information to make accountable decisions based on credible data.

Additionally, the concept of category management has developed to offer even more benefits. Through a change in technology and more of a focus on strategic marketing, category management has evolved from solely being a method of identifying assets as categories that can be separated, differentiated, organised and analysed to being utilised for improving the experience of consumers, identifying target audiences and offering them a product or service that they will engage with.

How to implement a category management strategy

Category Management is an integral part of bringing a product to market and defining your brand strategy. It is a collaboration between sales and marketing.

The process of implementing a category management strategy within your business is as follows:

1. Delve into data –

Conduct a category assessment by looking at the data you have to work with. At this point, you should also consider carrying out quantitative and qualitative research and refer to all relevant areas of market data.

2. Understand the concept of shopper versus consumer –

During any exercise in the application of category management, it’s important to weight up the shopper and the consumer while acknowledging that they’re not always the same.

Take dog food, for example. The owner of the dog is likely to want their dog to eat food that doesn’t carry any significant health risks, is suitable for the breed of dog and offers value for money, whereas the dog is more inclined to want food that comes in high quantities and tastes good.

3. Formulate crucial insights –

Through understanding the consumer your product appeals to, you can identify patterns in their behaviour, work out why these patterns happen, predict changes that may happen in the future and, as a result, alter your approach to capitalise on their wants and needs.

In any research exercise into insight, you should consider the process as a conveyor belt that plays out from left to right as follows:

Framing Facts Insight Implication Action
Identify a question you want to answer Gather information to understand what is happening Understand why the action is happening Identify why it’s important and what it means as a result Plan your next steps, whether it means making changes or adding new components to an existing strategy

4. Define your categories –

Categories are groups of products that should be easily recognisable to consumers. A key part of category management is the task of defining each category and making sure that this process is carried out in an effective manner.

During the process of defining your categories, you should base decisions on consumers, retailers, brands and regulations, and more specifically focus on how each of these areas may associate and interpret each product.

5. Segment each category –

Once you’ve established your categories, you can begin to group similar products together within each category. Factors that may be used to link products together and within specific categories include:

6. Understand category roles –

From a strategic perspective, each category will have a specific role to play for the retailer and its customers. By gauging the role of each category, you can begin to understand where it fits, why it’s important and how best to measure its success.

Common category roles include:

Excitement creating: generates interest and enthusiasm from customers by offering an innovative product, service or experience
Image enhancing: boosts or reinforces the image of the store or brand in the eyes of customers
Profit generating: attempts to increase profit made from the product, category or store
Traffic building: attracts customers to the store
Transaction building: aims to increase the amount of money spent by customers in specific products, categories or stores
Turf defending: fights to show superiority over competitors of the same or similar products and categories

7. Produce category vision and drivers –

With an eye on the future, planning a category vision allows you to envisage the direction the category is expected to go in, the life cycle it may have, future changes that may occur and any features that may improve its value in future years. When this has been established, you can then consider components that will help to make the vision a reality in the form of category drivers.

8. Plan your category management strategy –

In order for your category management fundamentals to be effective, you need a strategy in place. Using a mix of routes including several potential variables, your strategy can account for many different outcomes. During the creation of this strategy, you should aim to be as detailed as possible.

A key part of building your category management strategy is understanding the people that are likely to buy your product. As such, you should consider key factors around your average customer such as their:

9. Assess customer tactics –

Tactics are a required method of meeting customer needs, and by approaching this in a strategic manner, you can find ways to engage with your target audience and generate sales. For this to work, you will need to understand the sorts of products, services, prices, promotions, packaging and events that your average customer would be most drawn to and interested in.

10. Begin strategy implementation –

When you’ve carried out all of the necessary planning and preparation, it’s finally time to implement your strategy and allow it to take effect. However, there are a few tips that may help this process. For example, you should:

Appoint someone to run the management and regulation of the strategy
Set the wheels in motion at a suitable time
Create a thorough brief detailing every part of the strategy
Ensure that every step is monitored and measured
Anticipate any potential issues and provide contingency options
Decide on timescales for your team, retailers and customers to review the effectiveness of the strategy

11. Review performance using scorecards

Using digital scorecards, review the performance of your strategy on a short-term and long-term basis to check for positives, negatives and any necessary changes you may want to make. You can then continue to utilise and update this process, keeping all data to see how the performance of your strategy plays out and make any alterations to improve its effectiveness.

Applying category management can be a long and difficult process for any industry, but if you’re looking to incorporate this feature in the marketing of a pharmaceutical product, Ceuta Healthcare can help. Simply get in touch through the ‘Contact Us’ page, explain the issue you’re having and someone will be in touch to offer expert advice.