Every year, over 30,000 new products see the light, of which 95% fail shortly after their launch. This is data presented by Clayton Christensen, professor at Harvard Business School, in this INC article. The figure is somewhat variable. For example, Inez Blackburn, professor at the University of Toronto, speaks rather of 70-80% of failed products.
In any case, it seems that many brands are incapable of getting it right when it comes to uncovering consumer desires. But, why is failure so frequent? The article mentioned above stresses that, for a product to be successful, brands need to arrive at the “perfect formula of innovation, calculation and luck“.
Internal innovation, data analysis and consumer engagement
In an attempt to translate this formula, we could say that innovation is the differential element that makes a product attractive when compared to other similar products, and calculation represents knowledge of the market and its needs, thus reducing risks when launching the product.
The luck component is more unpredictable, but among other factors it can include the emotional reaction a consumer experiences when there is something new in the market. In this sense, using marketing to work on a positive experience will be key to create consumer loyalty.
Having said this, let us review some keys to land these variables within a product development process.
1. Products that don’t fail solve real problems
It may seem obvious, but this principle is not always taken into account. And to find out what those problems are, it is essential to know what consumers need. Gathering valuable insights regarding what they want, their habits, or the latest market trends will provide a valuable starting point for the internal development of a product.
Combining internal innovation through employees with listening programs that give consumers a voice, can help to bring together the detection of consumer needs and products that cover those needs.
The use of resources like digital communities open to hearing the consumer’s voice allow brands to gather those insights on a large scale, so they may be verified internally.
Brands like Hotusa Group in their community Hotel Tester Ideas or Vicky Foods in Mi Dulcesol Idea show how you can combine and hybridize both profiles (employees, consumers) when creating, testing and launching products in the market.
2. A product is innovative if it is distinctive and reaches the market at the right time
Even when they solve real needs, many products fail because they are not in the right place or at the right time, which can be mitigated with the aforementioned knowledge of the market.
That wrong time can mean the product arrives too early or too late. Sometimes brands over-saturate the market with similar products, and consumers cannot absorb all that offer.
Other times, an internal standstill causes the product not to be marketed in time. In this sense, Christensen mentions a lack of coordination between departments as a common Achiles’heel, and highlights that to reach the necessary agility, all parties participating in a product’s development must be aligned in their work and with an agenda for the future marked by milestones.
Internal innovation, its application in fields such as process simplification, work in multidisciplinary squads, promoting collaboration and co-creation or intrapreneurship, can all accelerate a product’s arrival to the market.
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3. Using the necessary people and groups, inside or outside of the organization
As we mentioned, involving internal talent with a global perspective can provide more variety among possible ideas and speed up the solution to a specific challenge.
When we speak of people, we are also talking about our clients and consumers. Incorporating ideas and co-creating with our audience, or testing products in development with that audience can be other great strengths that help to prevent products from failing shortly after their launch.
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Also, when said listening process is extended beyond the moment of product launch, it helps to create loyalty around the product and even to gather information to revitalize it when it reaches maturity, thus extending its life span.
At the beginning of the post we mentioned how unpredictable the luck factor can be. Involving all the different internal and external stakeholders in an organization can help to launch products to the market with a greater degree of certainty.