Any business would naturally pour its core into the development, production, and launching a new product. The hope is, of course, this product gains a huge momentum in the market as soon as it hits, and keeping this momentum for as long as possible. Sadly, not all products do as well as expected in the market. When a situation like this happens to your business, your first instinct should be to find out what went wrong. Below are three main reasons why a product falls short of expectations.
Insufficient market research. Regardless of how brilliant you deem your product idea to be, you need to be objective and factual in studying whether or not your product idea has any real chance in surviving in a very competitive market. Examine your product and answer the following questions: Does it address a particular need or problem? Are your target customers ready and able to buy it? Can it withstand the competition? Conduct a test launch. Release a prototype or beta version of the product so you can catch bugs or inadequacies while there is still a chance to return to the drawing board. An example scenario is that of the “New Coke” which was introduced by the Coca-Cola Company in the mid-1980’s. Market research by the cola giant simply assumed that taste was all that mattered to consumers, whether in an old or new product. The company likewise failed to take into account the emotional brand value of the original Coke taste. Consumers began to hoard bottles of the original formula out of fear that it was going to be phased out in the market.
Low product awareness due to poor marketing. Advertising and promotion of any product is necessary for it to achieve any measure of success. If your business is at a point where allocating heavily on promotion or advertising is difficult, go the innovative way. Leverage on the advertising reach of social media platforms, local events or contest concepts, anything that will create a buzz and set off word of mouth. Keep in mind that anything for sale will not move until people know about it. And let’s say people are buying your product yet sales volumes remain low. Consider that it could be because a lot of people do not know how to use the product to its full potential, or even at all. Or it could also be that your target customers do not perceive the value of your product as you wished they would. Take for example what happened to Kellog’s when it launched Breakfast Mates. It was a packed box of cereal, milk, and spoon. The advertisement showed that kids will be able to help themselves with the snack. Unfortunately, the actual packaging was not child-friendly. This inconsistency between the brand message and delivery resulted to poor sales.
Market timing is off. It is possible that you launched a product ahead of its time or came late in the market. If it is the former, it could be that your target customers were not ready for the product, and if it is the latter, competition is already very stiff. It is likewise possible that external factors such as economic or political conditions were not conducive for the launch. Think back to Microsoft’s SPOT (Smart Personal Objects Technology). Though Apple and Samsung smart watches are widely popular these days, Microsoft was a pioneer of the technology behind it about a decade ago. The problem was the launch timing was quite poor, given that it was launched during a period when people’s attention were very much on the booming high-speed cellular service.
Whatever the reason is for your product’s inability to meet sales expectations, try to identify an escape route. Study if it is feasible to still withdraw the product from the market, work on enhancements, and then re-launch. If this is not a plausible course of action, learn from the mistake and move on. Your next product launch will be significantly better with better market research, advertising, and timing.