About one-third of new products turn out to be unprofitable. It can be caused by many reasons – poor product, high price, wrong timing, big competition, etc.
Source: Zune (courtesy: Wierd)
Why Do Some Products Fail?
Poor Product Quality
Of course, poor quality products are not successful.
Higher production and distribution costs can cause a product's higher price. It will be difficult to sell such a product to middle- and lower-income buyers.
In the case the product is introduced at an unsuitable time, it can easily fail. It is important to choose the correct time for its promotion.
Possible inherent defects can disqualify the product and turn it to be a failure. Buyers can avoid the product even if the defect is fixed later.
In the case there are many similar products, the buyer will have many alternatives. In such a condition, the product can be unsuccessful.
Lack of Promotion
It is very important to promote the product, especially in the introduction stage. If the appropriate promotion is neglected, the product can easily fail.
Support quality is another important thing. Non-existent or poor support can ruin the product's reputation.
Failure to Understand Consumer Needs and Wants
Blinded by their visions, some companies ignore negative user feedback. Their products can easily fail to meet customers' needs and wants.
Do you remember Zune? Don't worry, neither do I. However, the iPod is a different story.
After seeing Apple's success, Microsoft introduced its portable media player in 2006. From the very beginning, Zune faced these challenges:
- inevitable comparisons to iPod
- its software was only available for Windows
In December 2008, Microsoft said Zune revenues had decreased by 54%, or $100 million.
Microsoft admits that they were just chasing Apple with a product that offered no reasons for customers to switch.
How to Deal With Unsuccessful Product
- Take a moment to breathe. Call down. Emotions won't help you right now; you need to be as rational as possible.
- Analyze what has gone wrong. Write each point down, however, you should use only cold facts. No emotions are allowed at this point. You need to know why exactly your Product failed. Look at the reasons listed here. A framework like JTBD can help you with seeing what are the customers' needs in the future.
- Take Responsibility for failure. Apologize and address it. Let unhappy clients know that you are listening to them. But don't go over it. Spending time on social media apologizing can take away energy from problem-solving.
- Start fixing things. Prioritize what you need to address first. Go over-and-beyond. Be sure you won't flop it this time since users don't like giving third chances.
A successful story that we find inspiring is the story of No Man's Sky, a space survival game. Their launch was a disaster, and the dev team behind it got hit by the worst internet has to offer. They had two possible ways out of the misery: 1) Run away with the money or 2) fix the product. So, their dev team went to work. They created Google Spreadsheets of features they need to add. Slowly but surely, they have added more and more into the game. The people started to appreciate the hard work, and today, No Man's Sky is a popular game. You can find more about this story in a youtube video from Internet Historian or in Guardian Article)