How to Rebrand Old Products for New Sales

Let’s say a company has an old product. Sales are so-so and dropping off gradually, like a slow leak in a tire. It may not be a drain on the bottom line just yet, but that day is coming.


The first temptation—just end production and try to keep its fans satisfied with another one of the company’s products. One problem, though. That product has a legion of loyal fans.


Remember what happened when Coke ditched its flagship product for “New Coke,” a product designed to resemble the cola of its nearest competitor, Pepsi? Disaster, of course. Although the upstart Pepsi was gaining on Coke in popularity, it wasn’t worth panicking over. Fans raised such a ruckus that the company’s millions spent in producing the new product went down the toilet—along with gallons of “New Coke,” quite probably.


Though Coke recovered nicely after it reintroduced its trademark flavor, it’s still a painful memory in marketing history. Not a mistake a startup or a small business wants to repeat since they don’t have the cash reserves to fund their recovery, as Coke did.


Faced with either a slow leak or a blowout, companies need to do something to get this product paying its own way again. Why not a rebrand, suggests Lahle Wolfe of The Balance.


Put a New Spin on It


One of the reasons an old product’s sales might stall is that it hasn’t risen to meet the demands of today’s customers, suggests Wolfe. She cites American candymakers’ dilemma as they faced rising ingredient prices and lower sales. Their solution? Inject more air into the candy and reframe it as a healthier alternative.


That marketing gamble paid off and has spread to other food and beverage makers’ marketing tactics, too. Smaller-serving soda cans have sprouted up in grocery stores, as have individual bottles of wine, all catering to the nation’s demand for “less is more.”


Judging from the increased sales, despite the higher price per unit, their efforts to repackage their old product have worked.


Other products, too, can benefit from looking at them with new eyes—finding a way to make them appeal to a modern customer base. Here’s where doing research on customer demographics is golden. Find out that the target market wants—and reframe that product to give it to them.


Find a New Market for It


Expand the customer base for the product. Although this will take some research into the demographic(s) most likely to buy the product, it’s well worth doing the legwork to find out. After all, even if you found a new product to replace it with, you’d have to do this kind of marketing research on the new product anyway.


Once the target market is identified, it’s time to put the company’s marketing efforts into full gear. Target ads to that segment of the population. Add promotional gear or labeling that will appeal to the new customer base. If it’s a better price they’re after, promote that in the labeling and messaging. Find out what about the product will attract that segment of the population and promote that.


Pair the Product with One of the Target Market’s Favorites


Discover what the target market likes and find a way to pair it with that item. If the target market is seafood lovers in New England and the product is a light-tasting beverage, advertise the product as the perfect go-with.


Wolfe mentions that Procter and Gamble discovered that their sales of Mr. Clean had dropped off, but those of their other product, Gain, had risen. What did P & G’s savvy marketing department do? It combined its popular product with one losing popularity with great success. Now Mr. Clean has a new life, Gain is still selling like hotcakes, and the company bottom line is expanding.


Finally, Rename and Reconfigure Its Appeal


Near the bottom of the ocean lay a huge number of ugly fish—with even an uglier name. Called slimefish, for the coat of slime around their face, they were a species that fishermen threw out in disgust—until a marketer decided to make hay with these fish—to be had for a song at one time. That marketer tapped into the fish’s brilliant orange color and renamed it “orange roughy”—a fish which now commands a high price at market, thanks to a brilliant re-naming and re-branding.


Find the hidden gold in your slow-selling product—and figure out a new angle you can take to market it. Chances are, it will be a smashing success!