What foodservice marketing and Jurassic World DON’T have in common

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The movie Jurassic World is headed towards becoming the most successful film in box office history. And this is for a film for which we all know how the plot will go without ever seeing the movie.

Dinosaurs will escape and terrorize humans because of some flaw in the park’s operation. Lots of good people will die (along with a few bad guys). And, in the end, all will be fine thanks to some heroic actions of a few.

Oddly enough, the movie greatly parallels how foodservice manufacturers work. Everybody already knows the plot behind that new gravy mix, dessert or French fry being worked on in your R&D lab. The new product may have a few different twists and turns (just like the latest movie)… but the product idea won’t surprise anybody because the basic concept has been seen many times.

But the movie-foodservice analogy breaks down at one critical point. A movie studio starts promoting and previewing a new film long before the release date to build excitement so movie-goers are convinced that they will still be thoroughly entertained.

Most foodservice manufacturers avoid previewing their “secret” product in fear competitors will launch a counter offensive (note to self, write a screenplay about this idea). And then manufacturers wonder why most new products fail. Perhaps your new product wasn’t bad. It’s more likely potential customers had no chance to anticipate what your new pomegranate-flavored pasta might really look or taste like before it launched.

  • Learn from social media. People talking about your product in advance is a potent marketing tool. The more a product is trending, the more likely operators will be excited to try it. Just ask all those people standing in line each time a new iPhone comes out.
  • Competitors whimper, they don’t steal. Most products take 6-12 months to develop. So, your competitors have little to do but pout if they get wind of your new product a month or two early. You’ll even still have first-mover advantage if they have a similar product ready for launch — so there’s even more of a reason to preview as early as possible.
  • Program previews are important, too. Rebates, coupons, print campaigns, social media posts — name your favorite marketing tactic — have all been done to ad nauseam. The wow factor of these ideas left long ago along with the concept of dinosaurs running wild. What is different is building anticipation for a program through creative content to build “coming attractions” excitement.

What are you doing to earn two thumbs up for your next product launch?