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The Unexpected Impact Of Launching During COVID-19

For the U.S., March was when things really started to change. Schools began shutting down, non-essential businesses were forced to close their doors, and the larger part of the public began social distancing. For many new brands set to launch during this timeframe, it was a rollercoaster, to say the least.

The first, and most obvious, impact is in a brand's finances. Time is money, as they say, so when you plan a launch and then have to shift strategies at the last minute, you certainly feel it. Plus, when launch dates are pushed back, brands experience a shorter period of sales than originally expected. "We knew that the run rate probably wouldn't be what we were expecting it to be," said Jamie Glassman, CEO of One Click B.eauty, a color cosmetics brand developed to bring ease, quality, and accessibility to people that launched in early April. The biggest thing on the founders' collective minds: paying their employees.

Another impact comes from ingredient sourcing and production. This was the biggest obstacle for Olamide Olowe and Claudia Teng, the 23-year-old co-founders behind the medicated skin-care brand Topicals. "A lot of our ingredients come from Italy," said Teng. "So, because Italy has been shut down for a really long time, we knew that getting certain ingredients was going to be quite the struggle." This hold up — which is still going on now — has delayed production.

"With our future launches, there was a couple of delays — not with ingredients, but packaging — with factories being at a lower capacity than they normally are," said Jeniece Trizzino, vice president of product development at Goodhabit.

In terms of marketing strategies, most original plans were now outdated given the current climate. In-person events surrounding the launches had to be completely scrapped or, at best, pushed back until the fall. Not only does this propose the task of having to reallocate funds, but it also leaves the issue of getting the word out to press. Wldkat, a CBD skin-care brand set to launch later this month, had initially planned an event in New York City on April 20 that involved completely making over a bodega. "I had to record a video from my living room over the weekend introducing the brand instead," said Amy Zunzunegui, CEO and founder of Wldkat.

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