There’s a saying in business that if you want to get something done, you better give it to someone who’s busy. The idea is that humans, for better or worse, often perform better under the pressures that come with being busy or living under a timeline. Over the last year and a half, ByQuest has seen one example after another of how important it is for brands use timelines to be decisive but also to balance being flexible and nimble in an environment where supply chains are constantly adjusting. Many great product ideas and innovations struggle making it to market launch while chasing perfection for their packaging and design.

This isn’t a new phenomenon: Sticking to a timeline has been an issue with product launches for decades. What’s new today is that there are more options than ever for conducting real time, real world test market scenarios so you can fine-tune your brand look and brand’s promise quickly with in-market results. You don’t have to attain “perfection” before you make your initial product launch. Consider the different E-premise and direct to consumer sales opportunities for beverage alcohol. Taking advantage of these new paths to market means that you can get early feedback on your brand and product design before rolling out to additional major markets. These new opportunities favor those who can launch quicker, see how the product is responding within the market, and if needed, make adjustments rather than staying in the R&D phase for months or years. Speed to market and sticking to that timeline for launch are more often indicators of success than the amount of time spent in R&D. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend time working on the launch of a new product, but brand owners should be careful not to get stuck into seemingly endless decision trees trying to get the first launch perfectly right.

Another compelling point for making quicker decisions about product launches is that supply chains around the world are still recovering from the impact of COVID-19 shutdowns. As a result, certain products and decorating elements are either not available or not available within traditional timelines. For flexible brands that understand the current situation, they’ve been able to move forward with new product launches despite the current supply situation. Sometimes, this has meant taking on additional upfront cost to bring a product to market, with the understanding that it’s more valuable to be in market sooner rather than waiting for the perfect combinations of elements that may take a lot longer given the current limitations of supply availability. Let’s look at a couple of examples from ByQuest’s own portfolio in the last year and a half. Bare Zero Proof (non-alcoholic beverages), shown below, initially planned to launch three different varietals with our Wildly Crafted® Primal bottles in Infinite Way™, our 100% recycled glass with a silver hue. At the time of product launch, our portfolio of Wildly Crafted Primal bottles expanded to three different colors of glass: “Infinite Way”, “Amber” and “Wild Color” (bluish green color). Bare decided to launch different flavors, each in a unique color to help differentiate them. This is a story of supply availability and the brand owner’s ability to quickly pivot from one plan to a better plan at “the moment of truth”, right when the product launch was about to happen.

Another example of being nimble and flexible, ByQuest has a client with a highly seasonal product, so much so that if the launch date was not met it would mean delaying the launch for a full year. The glass selection and art decoration had been completed with what, in more normal times, would have been ample time for production. However, as we all know, the last couple years have been anything but normal. COVID related supply chain issues meant that their glass could not be transported from Europe in time using conventional transportation methods. This brand faced a decision: Push the project back a full year or find a way to get the glass into the US. The owners chose the latter and opted to have the glass air shipped as a priority delivery over to the US, with the understanding that this premium meant they could start proving their business model and building sales now.

Similarly, we had another customer requiring glass sooner than conventional (ocean container) transport; they spent six-figures to move glass so they could keep product in-stock. We are hoping this higher shipping cost is just a temporary situation. These temporary cost pains were off set by the fact they could begin selling in the market this year and maintain vitality for a growing new brand. The willingness to adjust to these unusual times meant that our clients were able to take advantage of getting into the market now and/or keeping their existing business vital and moving forward. What are your thoughts? How do you think having a timeline helps you make decisions better? Are you able to be nimble and flexible? Do you have supply chain partners that help you make better decisions? Let us know your thoughts, and as always, keep unpacking.