Launch Insight: Election year drives new product recall down for the 4th time

by Belfort Group | Consumer , Thought Leadership
April 27, 2017

Every week, we’ll be bringing you an insight from our 2016 Most Memorable New Product Launch (MMNPL) Survey eBook. We’re breaking down our data and letting you know what the trends, behaviors and learnings we’ve gained from the survey. Download the full ebook below.

For the fourth time in the 15 history of the MMNPL survey, a presidential election coincided with a drop in consumer awareness of new products.

66% of consumers surveyed could not remember a single new product launched in 2016.

This is a 16% increase over 2015, when only 50% of people could not recall any new product launches. During the last election in 2012, the number of consumers able to remember a new product dropped 24% from 57% to 33%. In 2008, again an election year, we saw the highest percentage drop ever with 69% of consumers unable to remember a single product launch– a 28% rise over 2007.


Presidential election years create an incredibly distracting and cluttered media environment. Advertising channels become filled with political ads and the news coverage is wall-to-wall politics. Election coverage kicked off in the summer of 2015 with a large field of Republican nominees announcing their candidacy. A particularly dramatic, contentious and unusual election cycle also dominated the news and social media—making it incredibly challenging for brands to break through. At Belfort Group, the feedback from journalists was consistent– if it doesn’t relate to the election, we’re not interested in covering it.

Elections are high stakes business. Our MMNPL research tells us that a strong emotional resonance is what’s necessary to make a product memorable. It’s hard to make your brand’s emotional case when you’re competing with big issues like the environment, interpretation of constitutional rights and the economy. We also know that disseminating your message across multiple channels, mixing paid, earned, owned and shared media, is crucial to making a lasting impression with consumers. Paid, earned and shared media is harder to come by and more expensive in election years. Paid media requires brands to compete with big political campaign dollars and clout. The journalists you’d normally pitch for earned media are too busy covering the latest candidate scandal or gaffe. And shared? The public has to sift through social feeds full of tweets from candidates, comments from their aggressive supporters, and real and fake news stories, making those who are invested in politics too overloaded to notice your brand. And those who are ambivalent about politics are tired of seeing all the political rehetoric and often curtail their social media consumption until after the inauguration.

What does all this mean to marketers? Unless you have the luxury of a trusted brand name and reputation, it’s best to avoid launching a new product in an election year.

To get more great insights into product launch marketing and consumer behavior, download our 2016 Most Memorable New Product Launch Survey eBook:

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