With all the retail competition out there, online and in-store, it can be challenging to cut through the noise and let customers know what you’re up to.
Whether you have a new product launch, a big sale around the corner, or are working on a special project, you need to be able to speak to your audience and keep them up to date.
So, how can you build buzz around your newest products? There’s good news for established brands with a sizeable following: You can use product drops to create hype and move your latest releases (and fast).
But what is a product drop? How can you successfully execute one? And what strategies are other retailers using? In this article, you’ll find answers to all these questions, and hopefully feel inspired to use these product drop tactics for your retail business.
Table of Contents
What is a product drop?
One of the best ways to create buzz for your new products is with a product drop. A product drop builds hype for a new item in the days, weeks, or months leading up to the launch, stressing the date, time, and location of the drop.
Product drop vs. flash sale
A product drop is an iteration of a flash sale, but product drops usually happen IRL and span an even shorter period of time than the typical flash sale. Flash sales aren’t as effective if you have them on a regular basis. When it comes to creating hype with an impromptu sale, it’s best to keep them sporadic and unpredictable.
The benefits of product drops
Usually, product drops are special release products that will be available only for a limited time, or there’s a limited quantity for customers to get their hands on. The benefit to the customer is nabbing something exclusive, getting it early, and/or getting it first.
The benefits for your retail business are just as good. Product drops are an opportunity to quickly test new products, build brand awareness, and create FOMO, which usually encourages shoppers to act quickly and make purchases.
If the product drop is successful, you may want to bring back the product for a wider release or a second wave at a later date.
In the article What Makes Us Want to Shop a Drop?, Fashionista asks (and answers the question many wonder about this sales strategy: “So, what makes us want to shop a drop so much? Why do these releases drive us to instantly reach for our credit card information, almost like a reflex? According to experts who study consumer behavior and marketing, it all comes down to the scarcity principle.”
In other words, people don’t want to miss something special, prompting them to make decisions faster and more impulsively than if they have time to mull the purchase over.
Often, brands will stock either their own brick-and-mortar store, a pop-up shop, a third-party store, and/or specific niche websites with a limited inventory of a product they’re launching. When dropping a product in-store, these launches are often marked by customers waiting in long lines for the exclusive merchandise.
Popular streetwear brands like Supreme are known for hosting this style of product drop, which ensures that products sell out and keeps the overall demand high.
Another popular type of product drop is the collaboration. In these cases, brands collaborate with another brand, celebrity, or designer to create a limited edition line of products that are highly coveted by fans of both collaborators.
This strategy is beneficial to each partner, as it increases overall reach.
While collaborations are most popular in the fashion and beauty industries, it’s worth any retail business’s consideration. Look at working with a designer or a brand that shares an audience with you to create a line of limited edition products that will generate some buzz in the community.
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Examples of retailers creating hype with product drops
Looking for some inspiration from other Shopify merchants who have successfully built hype around product drops? Here’s how Gymshark and SeaVees created excitement and interest in their brands:
Gymshark creates buzz with a series of product drops
Activewear brand Gymshark partnered with fitness influencer and psoriasis advocate Whitney Simmons on a series of five product drops. Each one was posted on Instagram to build hype and keep its audience engaged. In one post, the brand shows a behind the scenes look at a photoshoot for the Gymshark x Whitney Simmons collection, to get people excited for its final product drop.
And Whitney Simmons also posted about the collaboration via her Instagram account, increasing reach and engagement. Her post has more than 120,000 likes.
📚Further reading: Influencer Marketing for Retail: How to Find the Right Ambassador For Your Business
SeaVees uses teasers and behind the scenes videos for its new product drop
When shoe brand SeaVees launched cozy fall slippers, it used Instagram to tease its audience and prepare them for the new product drop. Once the cozy slippers were available, the brand posted a behind-the-scenes video of its fall photoshoot and beautiful lifestyle and product photography.
In the days after the launch. SeaVees continued posting user-generated content (UGC) to get the word out about its new cozy slippers product drop.
8 product drop best practices
Want to test the waters with your own product drop? Here are eight tips to help you succeed:
1. Use scarcity marketing
If people think there’s a limited amount of stock available for your product drop, they’ll be more likely to pull the trigger and make a purchase. Let potential customers know how much has sold, how many units are left, or how many people are currently viewing a product. For example, you could use phrases like, “90% sold out” in an Instagram post, or “5 items left in stock” and “15 people are currently viewing this product” on your product page.
2. Build anticipation
Leading up to your product drop, spread the word by sharing teasers on your social media channels, newsletter, homepage, and via word of mouth in-store.
Share just enough information to pique interest and keep people wanting more.
3. Encourage shoppers to register for notifications
Leading up to your new product drop, share content on social media encouraging your followers to sign up for product drop notifications. This way, you’ll grow your email list, they’ll feel like they’re in the know, and it will help build anticipation.
💡 PRO TIP: Want to create beautifully branded emails to promote your next product launch? Use Shopify Email to create, send, and track campaigns, all from within Shopify—no coding experience required.
4. Focus on customer experience
Product drops can be unpredictable. Do you have enough stock to meet demand? You know it’s important to forecast demand for new products, but sometimes what you project is different than the reality. Selling out faster than you planned isn’t necessarily a bad problem to have, but it’s important to have strategies in place to make sure it doesn’t hurt the customer experience. It’s also crucial to make sure your ecommerce website can handle an influx of visitors and that you have a way to manage customer queues in your brick-and-mortar store.
5. Streamline inventory management
If you have an omnichannel business, product drops could wreak havoc on your inventory management system, especially if it’s not unified.
It’s important to keep track of every unit sold and which channel it was sold through.
💡 PRO TIP: Shopify POS comes with tools to help you control and manage your inventory across multiple store locations, your online store, and warehouse. Forecast demand, set low-stock alerts, create purchase orders, know which items are selling or sitting on shelves, count inventory, and more.
6. Drop products via your owned sales channels
Retail marketplaces like Amazon may be a good solution for everyday sales, but for product drops, it’s better to stick to your owned sales channel (i.e., your website and retail store). This way, you’ll have more control over the customer experience and branding, plus it will feel more exclusive.
7. Use exclusivity to foster brand loyalty
Fifty-nine percent of US consumers say once they’re loyal to a brand, it’s for life.
Do member-only, early access, or invite-only product drops to boost brand loyalty and encourage people to subscribe to your newsletter.
🤝 LOYALTY TIP: Use loyalty apps like Smile.io or Marselloto boost customer retention and let shoppers collect and redeem points every time they shop with your brand online or in store.
8. Make it easy to pay
Use a mobile point of sale like Shopify POS Go to make the in-store checkout process faster and more convenient. This way, you’ll reduce customer wait times and increase sales.
📌 GET STARTED: With Shopify Payments, you can accept all popular payment methods and local currencies for a convenient, high-converting checkout experience at your stores and online.
Moving forward with product drops
Now that you know what a product drop is, the benefits of them, and best practices for successful product drops, it’s your turn to try. You can start small and iterate as you learn which strategies work best for your retail business.
Have you had success launching a new product through an organized product drop?
Tell us about your experiences with creating hype to increase sales in the comments below.
Additional research and content from Alexis Damen.
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Product drops FAQ
What is a drop in marketing?
Drop in marketing is a type of marketing tactic used to draw attention to a company or product by creating a sudden, unexpected event. It typically involves “dropping” (i.e., releasing) a new product or limited edition item at a specific time and location, often with little to no prior warning. The goal of a drop in marketing is to generate a buzz and create a sense of urgency and excitement around the product or company.
Why do brands do product drops?
Brands do product drops to create hype and buzz around their products. Drops are a way to create limited editions and exclusive items, which can be highly desirable to brand loyalists and collectors. Drops also create urgency and scarcity, which can drive sales and create more demand for the product.
What does “drop” mean in retail?
In retail, “drop” typically refers to the release of new merchandise or products. It is also used to describe the launch of a new product line or collection.