April 20, 2018

Product Failure

You have probably heard statistics about the high failure rates of new product launches.
Is it 40%80%95%?
Why so high?
Those who have studied the new product state of affairs suggest that the major cause is a lack of demand for the new product. So why, you may wonder, was it built in the first place?
At Spark, we test new products before they are built. We help our clients findproduct-market fit before they go crazy with product development. So we like to stay current on the state of failure. Read on for some useful tips on how to avoid it.

We're Not Just Talking About Startups

Companies large and small struggle with the challenge of succeeding at new product development. It is a strangely unstudied discipline, however, given that careers and company livelihoods are at stake.
There are, however, occasional glimpses into how new product launches go sideways. This article about the topic focuses on failed consumer products, including a product from that poster child for new product failures, Coca-Cola (spoiler alert: there is a happy ending to this one).
This piece also contains our favorite quote on the topic: "Companies are so focused on designing and manufacturing new products that they postpone the hard work of getting ready to market them until too late in the game." 

Advice from the Trenches

Launching something new? Here to help are 32 experts on the topic of avoiding product launch failure. There is an abundance of GREAT ADVICE in here, and it's a well-edited quick read. Look for nuggets around early customer validation, starting small, focus, and targeting. 

Lived to Tell

No newsletter on the topic of product failure would be complete without a list of fiascos. Cue up the laugh track for these humdingers: bizarrely flavored Orbitz sodas...Apple’s ill-fated MessagePad...you get the idea. Reassuringly, many of these horror stories came from currently strong brands, so clearly a single launch failure need not spell doom for an entire company.

Dos and Don'ts

OK, maybe just "don't." While innovation often derives from flaunting conventional wisdom, we recommend putting the kibosh on blaming the customer for product launch failures. Exhibit A: Elon Musk, who recently blamed a driver of a Tesla for a fatal crash.  

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