How Epic Fails by Apple, Google, and Facebook Can Improve Your Product Launch

    by Bill Ballas


    Everyone makes mistakes.  Even executives with lots of success and cash under their belt.  Here are a few examples:

    Apple Newton - FaceBook Home - Google’s Lively - HP Touchpad – Microsoft Zuni - Netflix Qwikster


    Here’s what you can learn from their failures to improve your product launch.


    Recently I’ve been advising two start-ups to help them seize their respective market opportunities.  A major concern for each company’s founders is how their new products will earn customer adoption.  None of the owners wish to be among the nearly 50% of “new brands for new markets” that bomb. They simply want to know,

    “What factors will influence the successful adoption of a new product?”


    This is what I shared with them:

    The principal cause for new product failure is that entrepreneurs often do not

    view adoption through the eyes of each of their targeted customer segments.


    A marketing professor of mine once remarked, “People welcome innovation, but it is change they don’t like.”  He was referring to the many “yes/no” decisions each consumer makes that determines whether s/he will adopt a new product.


    And, as sentient human beings, we make choices based only on our psychology (which includes emotions).


    Product fails also occur for many reasons related to human psychology.  Numerous entrepreneurs botched their new products by believing too strongly in the inherent superiority of their new gizmo over existing competitors. 


    We’ve all heard the myth that the world wants a “better mousetrap.”  It doesn’t.  Yet this myth persists.  So, when I hear an innovator brag about her/his “better mousetrap,” my first thought is that s/he does not deeply understand how each customer segment perceives the product’s benefits. 


    On other occasions the new product nose-dived because consumers thought it was too ahead of its time. Or risky.


    Now and then the invention was incompatible with the values and experiences of potential consumers.  At times, customers perceived it as too complex to understand or use.


    In some instances customers could not try the innovation sufficiently before purchase to encourage adoption.  Or, if the product were tried appropriately, the results of the consumer experience were not adequately observed or communicated to others.


    A product’s non-acceptance may also be due to distribution, promotion, positioning, and timing issues, as well as the execution of its rollout. 


    Regardless of the cause, however, the best way to mitigate a futile product introduction is for entrepreneurs and companies to perform the qualitative and quantitative research needed to closely align their product with the psychology of each targeted consumer group.


    While it is possible for entrepreneurs to make money before their innovation gains market acceptance, it is not probable.  The founders I am advising are "in it to win it," and are focused on learning more abou their customers to improve their chances for product (and financial) success.


    BTW, please let me know if you want to buy a Nook.  It is in almost new condition.  And reasonably priced.


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