Products That Are Failed To Reach The Top

The biggest problem is lack of preparation: 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.

Pre-launch phase:
  • No market research on the product or the market has been done.
  • Most of the budget was used to create the product; little is left for launching, marketing, and selling it.
  • The product is interesting but lacks a precise market.
  • The product’s key differentiators and advantages are not easily articulated.
  • The product defines a new category, so consumers or customers will need considerable education before it can be sold.
  • The sales force doesn’t believe in the product and isn’t committed to selling it.
  • Because the target audience is unclear, the marketing campaign is unfocused.
  • Distribution takes longer than expected and lags behind the launch.
  • Sales channels are not educated about the product and thus slow to put it on shelves.
  • The product lacks formal independent testing to support claims.
  • The marketing campaign is developed in-house by the manufacturer and lacks objectivity.
  • The product is untested by consumers; only the company can assert its benefits.
  • The website is the primary place to order, but the product description is unclear and the site isn’t fully functional.

Launch phase:
  • The product is launched too hastily and doesn’t work reliably.
  • The launch is aimed at the wrong target audience.
  • Supplies of the product are insufficient to satisfy orders.
  • The product is launched too late for its key selling season.
  • The product doesn’t fit into any key selling season.
  • The manufacturer’s claims can’t be backed up.
  • A governing body (the FTC, the FDA) pulls the product, citing false claims.
  • The product is given a limited “trial at retail” but without public relations, marketing, or promotion to “turn” it.
  • The product is launched without influencers to promote its efficacy.
  • The launch budget is insufficient to “pull” the product off the shelf.
  • The product has no trained spokesperson to educate the media.
  • Management launches the marketing campaign before distribution is complete.
  • Management has promised the board and stockholders an instant hit without considering how much time is needed to educate consumers about the product.
  • The ad campaign is untested and ineffective.
  • The launch campaign depends solely on PR to sell the product.
  • The company spends the entire marketing/advertising budget at launch, so no funds are left to sustain the campaign.
  • Company executives underestimate the value of Twitter and Facebook.
  • Retailers are given no incentives to feature the product.
  • All marketing dollars go to advertising and public relations, none to social media.
  • Line extensions aren’t test-marketed as thoroughly as the original product, so they fail.
  • The product is launched to capitalize on a fad that soon fizzles.
  • The product design is unique but confuses consumers, who don’t understand how the product works.
  • The spokesperson is a bad fit with the product, creating a discordant message.
  • The product is priced too high for mass adoption.
  • Consumers are unclear about what demographic the product is geared toward.
  • The product is manufactured offshore; quality control issues result in negative consumer feedback and product returns.
  • The ad campaign is launched before the sales force is fully briefed, so customers know more than salespeople about the product.



1. Arch Deluxe MCDonald’s

Company: McDonald’s
Year released: 1996
In an effort to class up the McDonald’s brand, the company created the Arch Deluxe, a product marketed towards adults with more sophisticated palates but people don’t go to McDonald’s for sophistication.
McDonald’s spent $100 million advertising the burger specifically to adults, considerably more than it had on its other burgers. Instead of showing satisfied adults, billboards and TV ads depicted children disgusted with the new burger. It appears that most adults, however, were not convinced they should want the burger simply because kids didn’t want it. The Arch Deluxe was also more expensive. It cost at least $2.29, compared with the Big Mac, which cost just $1.90 at the time. The burger’s failure was so monumental that McDonald’s completely reversed its strategy of introducing pricier items. In 1997, the company released a 55 cent Big Mac and tried other dramatic price cuts

2. Edsel Ford

Company: Ford
Year released: 1957
Ford invested $400 million into the car. But Americans literally weren’t buying it, because they wanted “smaller, more economic vehicles,” according to Associated Content:
Other pundits have blamed its failure on Ford Motors execs never really defining the model’s niche in the car market. The pricing and market aim of most Edsel models was somewhere between the highest-end Ford and the lowest-end Mercury.
Ranging from $2,500 for the Edsel Pacer 4-door sedan to $3,766 for the 2-door convertible. This may have been difficult during a steep economic downturn – sales were down in 1957 for many other car companies, including Buick, Mercury, Dodge, and Pontiac. It was taken off the market in 1960.

3. New Coke

Company: Coca-Cola
Year released: 1985
In the early 1980s, Coke was losing ground to Pepsi. So it tried to create a product that would taste more like Pepsi.
While New Coke fared OK in nationwide taste tests before launching in 1985, it turned out those were misleading.
Many customers fiercely rejected “the new taste of Coca-Cola.” Many of the backlashers were Southerners who considered the drink a fundamental part of regional identity, and soon Coke faced public protests, boycotts and bottles being emptied into the streets of Southern cities.
Coke abandoned the product after a few weeks and went back to its old formula. It also gave its product a new name: Coca-Cola Classic.

4. Betamax

Company: Sony
Year released: 1975
The 1970s saw a war in home video formats between Betamax (1975) and VHS (1977).
Sony made a mistake: It started selling the Betamax in 1975, while its rivals started releasing VHS machines. Sony kept Betamax proprietary, meaning that the market for VHS products quickly outpaced the company.

5. Crystal Pepsi

Company: Pepsi
Year released: 1992
It was the early nineties, and purity was all the rage. As health and wellness moved center stage, more and more consumers were picking up Evian and Perrier instead of cola.
In an attempt to snag a piece of the purity pie, Pepsi launched Crystal. Its new cola was clear, caffeine-free and a total failure. It was hard for consumers to think of cola as a clear liquid. Which was not helped by the fact that Crystal didn’t taste like cola at all. The consumers know what they want — they want it brown, and they want to drink it all day long. In fact, no one really knew what it tasted like – just that it was not good.
Two years later, the product was pulled from the shelves.

6. Kitchen Entrees

Company: Colgate
Year released: 1982
In what must be one of the most bizarre brand extensions ever Colgate decided to use its name on a range of food products called Colgate’s Kitchen Entrees (chicken stir-fry). Needless to say, the products did not take off and never left U.S. soil. The idea must have been that consumers would eat their Colgate meal, then brush their teeth with Colgate toothpaste. The trouble was that for most people the name Colgate does not exactly get their taste buds tingling.
7. Cosmopolitan yogurt

Company: Cosmopolitan
Year released: 1999
Cosmopolitan has 58 international editions, is published in 36 languages and is distributed in more than 100 countries, making it one of the most dynamic brands on the planet. You could say it’s got this “magazine thing” down pat. All the more reason why it should stick to what it does best. One thing Cosmo does not do best is brand and sell yogurt. Yes, yogurt. From the time of its release, the yogurt was supposedly off of the shelves in 18 months.


8. Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo

Company: Procter & Gamble
Year released: 1979
Yogurt and other cultured dairy products may actually be beneficial for your hair. Like many companies, P&G began emphasizing the natural ingredients in its products in the 1970s to answer the overall “back to nature” movement of the time. It was common for many shampoos to contain a variety of natural ingredients, including honey, various herbs, and fruits. When Clairol, a subsidiary of P&G, released its Touch of Yogurt Shampoo in 1979, however, customers did not take to associating dairy with a hair product. The product was also confusing to some. There were a number of cases of people mistakenly eating it and getting sick as a result. Surprisingly, Touch of Yogurt was not Clairol’s first failed foray into milk-based hair products — three years earlier it had attempted to market a shampoo called the “Look of Buttermilk.” Both sold poorly and are no longer available in the U.S.

9. Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water

Company: Adolph Coors Company
Year released: 1990
Coors has advertised its beer as “cold brewed with pure rocky mountain spring water” for decades. Apparently, this water has been used to brew Coors beer since 1873. In response to a trend towards moderate alcohol consumption and significant growth in the bottled water segment, the company decided to sell spring water — its first nonalcoholic beverage since Prohibition. While the decision benefited from the company’s existing bottling logistics and distribution, the Coors brand didn’t help sell bottled water. Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water used a similar name and label to that of Coors beer, which may have confused and even spooked consumers. Anheuser-Busch, maker of Budweiser, also began criticizing Coors around that time for attributing superior quality to its mountain spring water, which Anheuser-Busch claimed was cut with water from Virginia. Coors cancelled its bottled water trademark in 1997.

10. TouchPad Hewlett Packard

Company: Hewlett Packard
Year released: 2011
Introduced in July 2011, the TouchPad was Hewlett Packard’s attempt to compete with Apple’s iPad. With powerful video capability and impressive processing speeds, the TouchPad was widely anticipated to be among the only products that could give Apple a run for its money. Despite large scale press events and promotions, the HP TouchPad was a colossal failure and was discontinued almost immediately. As a result of the TouchPad’s failure, the company wrote off $885 million in assets and incurred an additional $755 million in costs to wind down its web OS operations, ending all work on the TouchPad’s failed operating system. Since then, HP has continued to struggle to maintain its edge in the PC market. The once-dominant PC Company is in the midst of a multi-year turnaround plan. While the plan may have recently begun to bear fruit, investors remain cautious.

11. WOW! Chips

Company: PepsiCo
Year released: 1998
PepsiCo’s subsidiary Frito-Lay released WOW! Chips in an effort to offer healthier and less fattening junk food. By using olestra, a fat substitute designed by Procter & Gamble, WOW! Chips contained significantly less fat and calories. Initially, sales were exceptional, reaching $347 million in 1998 and making WOW! the best-selling potato chip brand that year. But olestra also had an unpleasant effect on the body. Diarrhea, incontinence, and cramping, were among the most common grievances, with some cases requiring hospitalization. PepsiCo dedicated a $35 million advertising budget to counteract negative opinion, but sales still declined dramatically in 1999 and 2000. Frito-Lay finally responded by renaming WOW! Chips “light” in 2004. The company also avoided calling attention to its continued use of olestra. The absence of a warning label prompted a number of lawsuits. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, olestra’s approval for consumption was one of the FDA’s biggest blunders of all time.

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