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The role of launch planning in the early commercial success of high technology products

Oakley, P. G. (1992). The role of launch planning in the early commercial success of high technology products. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis examines the association between launch planning and the early commercial success of high-tech products. The literature suggests that the launch phase is of great importance to new product success and that launch planning is a critical issue. The high cost of most launches also places a premium upon undertaking this activity effectively. A sample of 30 firms was drawn from the population of UK, mid-sized electronics companies. This group was chosen because of its importance to the national economy and its innovative record. Data was gathered by personal interviews with marketing directors and managers. Respondents were asked to nominate a successful new product launch to serve as a case example.

Performance was measured on a dependent variable designed to capture the degree of commercial success one year after launch. Analysis of the contribution of the independent variables to success was by means of parametric & non-parametric statistical tests, complemented by verbatim records. The results of the research strongly confirm the hypothesised association between more sophisticated planning and superior new product commercial performance. Additionally, a more concentrated marketing strategy (incorporating: 'ambition', 'effort', and 'focus') was also associated with better performance. However, contrary to expectations, sophisticated planning was the senior partner having a much stronger relationship with success. The implication is that the planning process is more important than the content of the marketing strategy. Consequently, the findings provide strong support for the proposition that a sophisticated, well executed launch planning process is a vital contributor to the early success of new high-tech products. Planning pays!

The practical implications of the findings are that firms should devote more attention to their launch planning. Not simply by formalising the process, but with measures designed to improve information gathering, participation from inside and outside the firm, monitoring & control and a willingness to adapt the plans during the post-launch phase. It was found that most of the sample companies were trying to implement similar marketing strategies. What has the greatest impact upon launch success is the attention given to the planning process over both planning initiation and implementation (ie the pre & post launch phases).

From a theoretical perspective the thesis has contributed to three areas - (1) Contrary to the emphasis given by some researchers to the pre-development stages of NPD, this study indicates that it is just as important to effectively execute the latter stages. (2) It demonstrates the value of measuring planning as a dynamic, multi-dimensional process extending over both initiation and implementation phases. (3) The results indicate that launch planning practices can have a more significant impact upon early commercial success than the realized strategy ie 'process' can be more important than 'content'.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HF Commerce
Departments: Bayes Business School
Bayes Business School > Bayes Business School Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Oakley thesis 1992 PDF-A.pdf]
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