Soft Launch in Marketing: Strategy & Definition

Instructor: Danielle Reed

Danielle works in digital marketing and advertising. She holds a bachelor's degree in English and an MBA.

In this lesson, we learn about a soft launch in marketing for new products or services. We also cover the strategy behind a soft launch including creating buzz, getting feedback, testing infrastructure, and determining effective promotions.

What Is a Soft Launch?

Have you ever been invited to gain special access to a product, service, or even location before it is available to the masses? If you've ever been able to test something before a launch, you've been a participant of a soft launch which is the release of a new service or product option to a small, select audience prior to a complete launch. The main goals of a soft launch are to gain data on user behavior, find out the most effective ways to promote the product, improve a product, optimize launches, and more.

Strategy of a Soft Launch

When it comes to hosting a soft launch, a company is making the decision to not host a hard launch which includes bringing a product or service to market after creating a major buzz and rolling it out to the entire population. A company notorious for hard launches is Apple. Every release of a new product includes a seminar and then a scheduled launch date.

Why would a company choose a soft launch over a hard launch? There are several facets to this strategy which include creating buzz, getting feedback prior to a full launch, testing infrastructure, and determining the most effective promotions.

Creating Buzz

Companies can embrace the concept of a soft launch for a product or service to create buzz among a group of its most loyal customers. They can choose the number of people to invite, get influencers to attend an event, and even control who has access to the new product. For example, restaurants often host soft openings where a select menu of specialty dishes is highlighted.

The purpose of creating a buzz among the most loyal customers is to determine which users are most likely to purchase, participate, and interact with a new product launch.

Getting Feedback Prior to a Full Launch

Another way to take advantage of loyal customers and their expert opinions is to receive feedback prior to a launch. For example, the release of a beta version of a website on an invitation-only basis allows for feedback. The end user is the person who actually uses the product. An end user may use a product or service in a unique way, have fresh input, or introduce a new challenge previously not considered. Everything from color scheme to functionality gets addressed in soft launch feedback.

Testing the Strength of Your Website or Infrastructure

Especially in the case of a new company, a soft launch allows testing the strength of company and product infrastructure. Called a stress test, this test assesses how well a system is able to function when subjected to pressure and/or stress. Services and products have different factors to test including employee training, order fulfillment, account management, ordering, and more.

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