The number 1 reason new products fail

According to Fast Company [inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]the number one reason for failure a new product has no clear or compelling relevance to people’s lives[/inlinetweet]. Companies often refuse to acknowledge a new product or service idea serves no strongly identified customer need, and they try to retrofit their marketing to compensate.  I would also argue that the number 1 reason is that[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] marketers rely too much on market research and that too many people within the organization are afraid to say “this is a dumb idea”.[/inlinetweet]

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]The statistics are quite alarming when it comes to new products; 4 out of 5 will fail[/inlinetweet].  That’s a lot of wasted money in product development as well as precious marketing dollars.  Yet the pressure to introduce new products that are going to fail can be very high in organizations that focus on politics rather than the customer.

There is a reason that Steve Jobs did not use focus groups and other market research.  He felt that they were not a reliable source of new product innovation and as thus he took more of a risk to develop and market new products that he felt consumers would want.   While that kind of power is very rare today in any CPG company, the key lesson here is that[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””] marketers need to rely less on market research and ask a basic question “what problem does our product solve for consumers?[/inlinetweet]” Or “does our new product make consumers feel good about themselves?”.

For a great example on new product failures look no further than the rebranded Diet Coke flavors.  The reviews have been critical from Millennial’s who were the target of the new Diet Coke products,but Diet Coke seems to have neglected the fact that Milennials are not drinking soda anymore because it’s unhealthy.   Is there any doubt this strategy will fail?

Now, I’m the first one to raise my hand when it comes to conducting more market research, but I also trust my gut and use common sense when working for clients on new products.  Not too long ago a client, who made high cocoa, chocolate cars, wanted to add some with caramel fillings.  His products were actually positioned as a healthy snack because of the high cocoa content and the research that showed that high cocoa content was beneficial to consumers.  Why add caramel I asked “wouldn’t it just increase the sugar content without any benefit for our customers?  Sure enough the research confirmed this with our current customers.

[inlinetweet prefix=”” tweeter=”” suffix=””]According to a leading market research firm, about 75% of consumer packaged goods and retail products fail to earn even $7.5 million during their first year.[/inlinetweet] This is, obviously, not a good track record.  Marketers would be wise to approach new products from a consumer’s point of view  and ask “what’s in it for me?” rather than rely on market research too much.

About richmeyer

Rich is a passionate marketer who is able to quickly understand what turns a prospect into a customer. He challenges the status quo and always asks "what can we do better"? He knows how to take analytics and turn them into opportunities and he is a great communicator.

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6 Comments on “The number 1 reason new products fail”

  1. Richard,

    It’s common sense and yet so many companies are going to fall into that trap. Four out of five? Wow!

    As I read your article, I thought about how I might apply this truth in areas of my life. What problems am I solving with my blog? Podcast? Web Site?

    Aren’t these things supposed to be identified in a business plan? Project plan? Etc.

    Thank you for causing me to think a little on this beautiful Easter Sunday.


  2. Think like a customer is a good motto to help design your business strategy. I like that.

    Sometimes though some really dumb products work and it makes you wonder why.


  3. Not sure I agree. Jobs may not have used focus groups for much of his development but as I understand it he did the development with teams of people inside the company who had innovation as the key and pushing the limits. The challenge for most businesses is to identify the need they are meeting. And then the marketing is easier. Product failure is common because people have not asked what need or problem are we solving

  4. I’ll have to go on the premise that there is a market for any and everything, if you build it they will come.
    What problem did a pet rock solve? Yet people bought them.

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