How To Fail At Product Launch

Product launch

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Even the extremely successful new product launch geniuses of Apple computer suffered from ‘bendgate’ soon after the launch of the iPhone 6. If you are ever involved in a new product development effort be prepared for a shock as you learn first-hand how to fail at product launch.

As a student and practitioner of new product and market development, I have learned to assume that every product launched needs to be fixed, changed or tweaked in some way soon after it is introduced. Always look for ways a product in development may not perform as planned to avoid the embarrassment and expense. Position any potential failure as an obstacle to overcome.

Today, the best way for a business to grow is to create new products, services and markets. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you embark on seizing growth opportunities.


Why New Products Fail

The following chart was provided to me when I took an intensive course on Planning and Developing New product and Markets. Typical survey results across different industries indicate similar results. From highest to lowest, here are the Reasons for New Product Failures:

Inadequate Market Research 32%
Product Defects 23%
Higher Costs Than Anticipated 14%
Poor Timing 10%
Competitor Reaction 8%
Inadequate Marketing/Sales Effort 7%
Withdrew Too Early 6%

Market Research is the first stop-gate measurement to determine if you should move forward with product development. When compiling market research consider all of these factors: consumers, users and market participants; the buying process; direct and indirect competitors; competitive strategies; market share of competitors; distribution channel structure; and key economic and environmental factors.

Eliminate Risk or Face Peril

If you skip-over a Market Research item it will come back to bite you!
If you skip-over a Market Research item it will come back to bite you!

If you skip or gloss over any of these factors, it will come back to bite you. I once participated in what we thought was a well-developed product launch that required outsourcing a telemarketing center.

We glossed over the ‘environmental’ factor only to learn the hard way that the call center we chose was in Tornado Alley and a nearby weather disruption halted our progress. We quickly spread the telemarketing between three call centers located in diverse parts of the country. Now, I always stretch the team’s imagination to come up with ‘what-if’ scenarios for every category to eliminate hidden surprises.

 Failure is a Big Part Of Success

“I have not failed, I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison

Developing a tolerance for trial and error along with a curisoty about how things work and what motivates people to take action is the attitude one needs to adopt. If you can’t quantify the basic market description factors DO NOT PASS GO. It’s better to go back and quantify all possible market data before bringing on the expenses incurred by Engineering, Manufacturing, Marketing, Sales or Service to develop prototypes, plans or processes when the basic market questions are not defined.

As a new product or market developer remember the adage “Success is Failure turned inside out”

To your success!


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