What is Product Failure?
Product flops lead to the withdrawal of the product from the market due to different reasons such as
- A product not being able to realize the required market share to sustain its presence in the market
- A product not being able to get the anticipated life cycle as defined by the organization
- The ultimate failure of a product in not achieving profitability at all
Product failures are the state or condition of not meeting the intended objective or expectations of people. This can be viewed as a failure of the product.
Product failures occur when a new product after its launch fails to gain an adequate amount of sales, leading to its loss.
When a product does not manage to recover its cost and the amount of money used for its marketing, then the product is said to be a huge failure. The failure of a product is most often realized in its utilization phase.
Sometimes, products look great on paper before they are actually used but fail to satisfy the expectations of the customers. When this happens, the organization fails or experiences certain financial trouble that prohibits it from meeting its profitability objectives.
By analyzing product failures, the organization can plan and implement things that they learned from previous product failures’ mistakes. The primary aim is to learn from product failures so that product development and implementation would be more successful in the future.
Common reasons for Product Failures of Existing Products
Many reasons could lead to the failure of a product. Some of them are
1. Lack of product uniqueness
If a product produced has features exactly as products that are already available, it leads to its failure.
2. High price tag
The price tag factor is one of the biggest reasons for the failure of a product. A product with a very high price is very difficult to be sold in a market. People prefer alternative products that have a lesser price than high priced products.
3. Poor timing
For a product to be successful, it is important for it to be released at the correct time. If the product is introduced when the product is not needed, then this leads to the product’s failure.
4. Poor planning
Failure of a company to make plans about every stage of a product’s life will lead to the product’s failure. They must plan to take care of their customers
5. Lack of promotional measures
It is important to promote or popularize the product in its introduction stage. Failure in doing so would cause a great loss to the organization.
In addition to these, there are some common instances when a new product flops. Let us have a look at common reasons behind the failures of new products-
Reasons for new Product Failures
According to some studies by industry, it is estimated that around 70%-80% of the new products fail.
Some of the reasons for the failure of a new product are:
1. The product is too new to the market
2. Lack of ample amount of promotion
Lack of promotion can also be a prime reason behind the severe lack in the reach of the product towards its target niche that will lead to product failures.
3. Difficulty in understanding market basket analysis
When a company launches a product without doing proper and accurate market basket analysis for that product, product failures occur.
4. Product not meeting customer’s perceptions
For a product to be successful, it is crucial that it meets the perceptions of the target customers otherwise it might meet the fate of the galaxy note 7 which was a classic case when a good product flops.
5. Products not being sold to customers who need it
To be successful, it is important it is sold to the right people. But, when products are not targeted towards the right audience, they would ultimately fail.
6. The quality of the product not being good
Products with inferior quality will always struggle to exist and sustain in the market, and they will fail in any case.
7. Failure in understanding customers’ needs and wants
When a product is launched or introduced without the proper understanding of the needs and wants of the target customers, it fails.
8. Poor execution of the product
When a product is not executed properly by paying heed to all the associated factors, it leads to product failures.
9. Fixing a problem that doesn’t even exist
When a product tries to solve a problem that does not exist or not quite evident to the target audiences, it might head towards failures.
Examples of Product Failures
Despite the efforts made by the organizations and the marketers, some products eventually fail.
Some of the examples of product failures are
1. Google Glass
Launched in 2013, Google Glass did not last long as long as Google had expected.
Google glass was way ahead of its time. After two years of disappointing sales, Google discontinued the development of Google glass.
This product struggled due to its high price, low battery life, and privacy concerns. – And that is why Google glass is in the first place of our top product failures around the world.
2. Kitchen Entrees
Kitchen Entrees which was a frozen meal launched by Colgate was a huge flop.
People naturally link the Colgate name with toothpaste; it was difficult for people to accept a frozen meal with the Colgate logo. – And that is why it is one of the biggest new product failures.
3. Galaxy Note 7
Launched by Samsung, Galaxy Note 7 was very well received initially.
But there was a serious problem with the phone’s battery. It caught fire on several occasions. Due to this, it was banned in certain places. Soon Samsung suspended its production.
4. Sony Airboard
It was launched in the year 2004.
After four years from its launch, the product was discontinued because of its high price.
Burger King had introduced a healthier alternative for fries.
But it failed to convey the difference to its customers. So the company discontinued these fries less than a year after they were introduced.
6. Coca Cola
Coca Cola has a list of product failures that deserve to be in this list of product failures. Let us have a look upon some of those-
a. New Coke
New Coke can be understood as the poster boy for Coca Cola product failures.
In the year 1985, while trying to boost sales and “refresh” its classic soft drink, Coca-Cola retired its tried-and-true recipe and came up with “New Coke.” But the product was a big flop.
b. Dasani (in the UK)
Dasani water is a Coca-Cola product that works well in the USA but it was a big failure when Coke tried to introduce Dasani in the United Kingdom.
c. Coca-Cola Blak
It was a coffee-flavoured Coke released in the United States is another example of product failures. It was a drink that got introduced before its time.
d. Coca-Cola C2
This is again a classic example of a product destined to fail, as its target audience was men ages 20 to 40 but they ultimately thought that drinking diet soda is a feminine trait.
7. Virtual Boy
Virtual Boy which is Nintendo’s VR headset from 1995 failed spectacularly, and that is why it is one of the most popular examples of product failures.
The company released the Virtual Boy console but the problem with this Virtual Boy VR handset was that it didn’t technically count as virtual reality. The virtual boy offered gamers a 3D experience they couldn’t find in handheld devices or TV screens but it was not up to the mark.
That is why Virtual Boy didn’t click with its target audiences. Ultimately Virtual Boy was discontinued less than a year after its debut.
With 770,000+ units sold, Virtual Boy is understood as Nintendo’s worst-selling console of all time.
8. Touch of Yogurt Shampoo
The key reason behind the failure of Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo was not being able to explain the product features adeptly because using dairy products in your hair wasn’t correctly explained too well.
The product was way ahead of its time, as in 1979, using food-based or natural products was not normal.
9. Frito Lay Wow Chips
Wow, chips from Frito Lay didn’t work out the way Frito-Lay was hoping.
The company tried to fry them in olestra instead of oil, but later olestra started leaving some not-so-nice side effects like diarrhea, stomach cramping, etc. that failed this product.
10. Coors Rocky Mountain
Coors that used to make beer with branding as “cold brewed with pure rocky mountains spring water” came up with a line of sparkling water in 1990 which was a massive failure.
11. Crystal Pepsi
12. Windows Vista
Windows Vista failed because of the significant change Windows made to the kernel and core software.
Microsoft disregarded that fact when it released Windows Vista, different existing software and hardware were not compatible with Vista.
13. Fire Phone
Two months after the release of the Amazon Fire Phone, it was quite evident that it was a failed product.
Customers gave Fire phone 2.6 out of 5 stars. Reviewers and termed Fire phone as “forgettable” and “mediocre.”
14. Facebook Home
Facebook’s new product for mobile Facebook home was a big flop.
It was built by iPhone users, and it could not serve the Android users who enjoy using features like docs, widgets, app folders, etc.
15. Arch Deluxe McDonald’s Burgers
In 1996, McDonald’s came up with this new product- Arch Deluxe burger to target urban sophisticates by marketing it as a Burger with the Grown-up taste.
Despite so much branding and advertising spending, Arch Deluxe burger failed to win the hearts of its audiences and ultimately it was discontinued in 2000.
16. Frito-Lay Lemonade
After snacking on a bag of Lay’s potato chips, thirst is always there which the Frito-Lay tried to capitalize with a new product- a drink named Lemonade.
But consumers of the brand always associated it with its salty and crunchy snacks. This lead to the failure of this product.
17. Microsoft Zune
Microsoft came up with a portable media player that was first launched in November 2006.
It was failed because of bad timing, insufficient marketing, and lack of innovation.
18. Cosmopolitan Yogurt
Cosmopolitan, an international magazine came up with a totally different product i.e. cosmopolitan yogurt that too at a higher price tag than the competitors.
19. General Motors
From 5% market share in the year 2010, GM reached 1% market share in the year 2016.
They could not understand the wants of Indian users. The company was targeting the middle-class market but they could not understand their preferences for cost-effective, aspirational, and comfortable cars.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Product Failure.
How to prevent Product Failures?
Understanding product failures is essential to prevent future failures.
Studying the history of a product helps in the success of the product and thereby the organization’s success. Some of the measures to prevent product failures are:
1. Product should be in Demand
The organization and marketer should ensure that the product they sell or market is in demand.
2. Product should not have inherent defects
Before the launch of the product, the company must make sure that the product has no inherent defects.
3. Have top-notch product quality
The quality of the product should be high.
4. Get quality certifications
In the case of industrial goods, it is beneficial to get quality certification from the International Standards Organization.
5. Do not introduce identical products
The company should make sure that identical products are not introduced in the market.
6. Spare parts and service centres should be there in the market
It is important to make the spare parts of the product available in the market at fair prices.
On the concluding note, we hope you would have understood what is product failure and why it occurs.
The aforementioned examples of drastic product failures are great learning lessons for those who are planning to launch a new product.
From Google to Amazon to Microsoft to GM, all sorts of companies have faced great product failures.
So, taking lessons from the failures and then introducing fool-proof products in the market with proper market analysis would help you optimize the success ratio of your products.