Research unveiled today has highlighted that social media is king when it comes to launching a product or service in the financial sector: seven out of ten (71%) brand marketers now prioritise social media in their launch marketing plans. This is in line with the wider marketing industry, where 74% of marketers now prioritise social.

The research was commissioned by launch marketing specialist agency Five by Five, interviewing more than 730 senior marketers across the UK, US and Australia. This included 80 brand marketers working in the financial sector.

Email ranked second among the most important channels in finance, with 68% citing it, with sales promotion coming in third (53%). TV only ranked in fifth (33%) behind direct mail (43%), suggesting that ‘traditional’ above the line ad campaigns are no longer holding sway when it comes to building awareness for new products and services.

This reinforces Five by Five’s consumer study last year, where only 6% of consumers said that TV advertising was a key factor in whether or not they bought a new product[1].

According to this new study, one factor in the growth of social as the go-to channel for launches may be the faster time frames facing marketers: seven out of ten marketers working in the financial sector (70%) say that the average time between the idea first originating and launching the product has shrunk over the past five years. In addition, seven out of ten (71%) also say they usually have only six months or less to prepare for a product launch.

It also found that just over a half of marketers working in financial services (51%) use social listening to support their new product development. This proportion is the lowest out of all sectors surveyed, with retail (72%), and entertainment (68%) ranking the highest.

Furthermore, just under half (44%) believe the biggest benefit of social channels lies in generating awareness before the product actually launches.

Martin Flavin, creative director at Five by Five, comments: “Social media has become the most important way to generate buzz for new products and services before they appear. Shareable content and social engagement allow brands to create a groundswell of pre-launch interest in a way no other channel can match.”

The study also asked marketers how they feel launch marketing has changed over the past five years. In addition to the tighter timeframes involved, 56% of marketers working in the financial sector now think launches cost more, although the same amount (56%) believe the internal processes prior to launch are less difficult than they used to be, and a colossal 86% believe they are now able to make better-informed decisions about their product launches.

Meanwhile, two thirds of marketers in the financial services sector (65%) think the creative ideas around product launches have become braver over the past five years. While 85% believe launch campaigns are now more measurable.

Michelle Mitchell, strategy director at Five by Five, adds: “Deadlines have got tighter, and costs have risen – but marketers now are more informed about their product launches than ever. This increased knowledge means that campaigns are braver, smoother and more effective.”

Unsurprisingly, eight out of ten (79%) think launch marketing is significantly different to other forms of marketing and requires specialist handling.

According to the findings, 53% of financial services firms use soft launching to support new product or service development. The use of soft launching rises to 63% among technology brands and 60% for FMCG businesses.

In addition, the three factors most likely to threaten the successful launch of a new product or service within financial services are lack of budget (54%), ineffective marketing communications (41%) and slow processes (38%). Senior marketers spend an average of 40% of their time on launch activity, and as a consequence, many cite the need for additional resource around launch.

Mitchell concludes: “While the internal processes marketers go through to get their launch off the ground may have become easier, they are still considered a significant barrier to success; there is clearly still room for improvement.

“For many senior marketers, launches have become more multi-faceted. This means that effective communication internally, alignment with external agencies and the correct investment of time and budgets is crucially for ensuring a successful launch.”

The full report can be downloaded here:

[1]Research commissioned by Five by Five among 2,000 UK adults, February 2015

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