“Launch vs. Commercialization" Is Like “Bone Apple Tea vs. Bon Appétit”




Unlike the internet sensation, confusing these terms could cost millions.


“Bone apple tea” became an interchangeable internet term for “bon appétit (enjoy your meal) after someone hilariously confused the terms


It all started when somebody meant to post a picture of their dinner along with the French expression "bon appétit." 


Instead of spelling it correctly, they spelled it phonetically as "bone apple tea," and the mistake became an instant meme. People misusing words on the internet is hardly new, but in this instance, misusing these terms reached trend-worthy proportions. 


In the world of healthcare innovation, “launch” and “commercialization” also are used interchangeably. 


But there's a big difference.


This innocent mistake could cost millions of dollars, or even worse, spark the demise of an entire company.


The hard truth is that many innovations are launched into the market, but few reach market success and generate a profit.


Here’s why.


"Launch" vs. "Commercialization." What comes first? The chicken or the egg?


The sequence is everything. Some people use the terms “launch” and “commercialize” interchangeably. But like the chicken and egg, neither are actually wrong. They’re really different functions of the innovation process, and sequence is critical.


There are two distinguishing factors between launching and commercializing an innovation: The timing and goal of the initiative.


What many innovators don’t realize is that commercialization — generating a profit from the innovation — is a holistic process that begins before the product is even fully-developed and continues long after it’s launched.


Commercialization, essentially, is the full recipe. It’s the whole chicken.


Launching is a much smaller-scale process. It occurs when the innovation is developed and ready for its first release into the market. Launching is a small subset of the commercialization process — more of an ingredient. It’s the egg.


Because launch is a key ingredient of the recipe and has a very specific function, it needs to be prepared for the right goal at the right time. Again, it’s all in the sequence.


The Traditional Launch Model: "Bone Apple Tea."


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There are tons of innovation process models out there, both linear and flexible. For the sake of our discussion about commercializing vs. launching a new product, we’re going to use the traditional innovation process model below with five linear phases: ideation, research, planning, prototyping, and launch. Note where launch resides: At the end of the sequence.


When a business leader wants to launch their innovation, (hopefully) they have already gone through the ideation, research, planning and prototyping phases. That’s why launching a new product is most often described as the final step.


The business leader’s goal is to maximize exposure and interest in their solution. 


To do this, they’re making decisions about when, how and where to make their solution available to consumers, and how to make them aware that the new solution exists.


This includes considerations such as developing branding, marketing, and advertising strategies and plans.


This, my friends, is “Bone Apple Tea.”


The Health Innovator's Edge: “Bon Appétit."


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Innovators will need to develop their commercialization of innovation (CoI) blueprint much earlier than the launch phase. This means if they're planning to hire a commercialization partner, this should be done before the product is fully-developed.


In fact, by the time an innovation is ready for launch, many of the key commercialization decisions already have been made. (Or should have been).


So, when a business leader seeks a partner solely to launch an innovation, they’ve already missed opportunities for guidance on those critical choices that often make the difference between market success and failure.


A tried and true sequential recipe, The Health Innovator’s Edge, includes three interrelated sub strategies through which new solutions move and decisions are made to maximize ROI.


Each sub-strategy is a coherent set of commercialization decisions that are aimed at:


  • Early Adoption: Stimulating the diffusion of the innovation in the early market in a way that encourages consumers to build a positive attitude toward it.
  • Adoption Network: Obtaining support from critical players in the adoption network necessary for enabling the diffusion of the innovation in the mainstream market.
  • Mainstream Adoption: Stimulating the diffusion of the innovation in the mainstream market.


And, each of these sub-strategies includes a deliberate mix of strategic and tactical concepts systematically designed to achieve a specific result.


Commercializing an innovation is a complete recipe that includes:


  • Timing 
  • Targeting 
  • Positioning
  • Pricing 
  • Communication 
  • Product Distribution
  • Partnerships and Alliances


Each of these eight concepts (above) affects customer acceptance and financial performance achieved by the innovation. 


Unlike a sole product launch, commercialization begins with an early adoption strategy.


To make the right choice between launch and commercialization, ask yourself the following:


  • Should you choose a first-mover or fast-follower timing strategy?
  • How do you target the early market, the small group of customers who will first purchase your innovation?
  • What key strategic partnerships and alliances are needed to create legitimacy and credibility for your company?
  • What features and functionality should be part of your minimal viable product for launch?


These are the intrinsic factors that differentiate “Bone Apple Aea” and “Bon Appétit” in business.


In Healthcare Innovation, the Chicken Comes Before the Egg.


I am not a chef. Folks do not come to me for chicken dinners (thankfully). I am, however, an innovation strategy architect. I know the recipes and the sequences to break through the confusion, increase your likelihood of success and make sure your innovation gets into the hands of the people who need it most.


Don't Let the Chicken Get Away From You.


Let me help you leverage the differences between launch and commercialization. Learn about the Health Innovator’s Edge and increase your profit by 10-30%.


Bon Appétit!