by: Geoff Ficke

Consumer Product Marketing Success Depends Much More on Being First and Executing than Simply Being First

Recently I had the opportunity to review a new beverage concept submitted for consideration by an entrepreneur. This young chap had collected reams of information, concrete data on his drink’s wellness benefits, packaging renderings and marketing trend information on the mass market soft drink category. His due diligence was impressive and seemed indicative of a driven, passionate innovator.

My staff came away from the meeting impressed on every level. We had spent several hours advising on the various options and strategies that could possibly be utilized to fully commercialize the drink. The beverage was in concept form, so a turn-key product development menu of work elements needed to be detailed. The entrepreneur taped the meeting and took copious notes as we essentially provided him with an oral business model and a rudimentary business plan.

Before the initial meeting we had not seen or been appraised the content of the proposed beverages unique selling proposition. Once unveiled, we immediately searched the internet to discover competitors. We found only one direct competitor.

In a category as wide and deep as drinks, to find but one direct competitor in a space is unusual. The normal rule for seizing and commercializing a Unique Selling Proposition is that we look for an identifiable niche in a broad category. Even though the concept we were reviewing had an existing competitive brand, we could easily customize a strategy to potentially command this niche.

As we reviewed the competitive brand we had discovered, one thing became immediately apparent; the owner of the existing drink had gotten to market first, but had not executed any type of strategy that was leading to sales success. Our Consumer Product Development and Marketing Consulting firm uses a proprietary system to analyze the commercial viability of concepts and small and micro-brands. When we applied these key measurements to the extant beverage brand we saw error after error in marketing execution working to the detriment of the product.

The information we had gathered convinced us that our prospective client had an excellent opportunity to seize the space if he executed a disciplined, customized Marketing and Branding strategy. Every year new waters, soft drink, energy, teas, coffees, juices and wellness drink brands are launched and find varying levels of success. Though the category would seem to be saturated, the actuality is that there are always new entrants and stores are always seeking the next new and fresh thing. The missing element for those that fail is always the failure to properly execute.

This applies to every consumer product category in which we work. From Pet Products, to Cosmetics, to Jewelry, to Giftware, to Sporting Goods and many others, the market craves novel products that offer fresh features and benefits. The key to success in Marketing Consumer Products is to get to market as quickly as possible AND execute a strategy that supports the Business and Sales Model.

We see many entrepreneurs confuse the importance of being first (and it is important) with the more crucial goal of being first and executing on strategy. One without the other is like a beautiful sports car without access to fuel. Neither goes very far.

Author's Bio: 

Geoff Ficke has been a serial entrepreneur for almost 50 years. As a small boy, earning his spending money doing odd jobs in the neighborhood, he learned the value of selling himself, offering service and value for money.

After putting himself through the University of Kentucky (B.A. Broadcast Journalism, 1969) and serving in the United States Marine Corp, Mr. Ficke commenced a career in the cosmetic industry. After rising to National Sales Manager for Vidal Sassoon Hair Care at age 28, he then launched a number of ventures, including Rubigo Cosmetics, Parfums Pierre Wulff Paris, Le Bain Couture and Fashion Fragrance.

Geoff Ficke and his consulting firm, Duquesa Marketing, ( has assisted businesses large and small, domestic and international, entrepreneurs, inventors and students in new product development, capital formation, licensing, marketing, sales and business plans and successful implementation of his customized strategies. He is a Senior Fellow at the Page Center for Entrepreneurial Studies, Business School, Miami University, Oxford, Ohio.