Why innovative new products fail? Because marketers believe they know the industry, the product market and the customers and their needs. And after going through cycles of input gathering, any original innovative ideas were ultimately turned into something a lot like their existing products with minor improvisation. Sounds familiar?
Too many firms “innovate” with very few real insight about the market, their customers, or customers’ aspirations, needs or wants. Rather than go out and understand what customers need and expect, they rely on anecdotal evidence and market research, or simply perform some "ethnographic" study performed by traditional marketing research companies. "ethnographic" field work performed without an anthropologist is like going to bungee jump without an instructor.
This is a key failure point of the first order, like jogging on the rooftop blindly down a path that ends off the building.
What leads some innovative products and services to succeed and others to fail? The answer to this question encompasses a number of different factors. In some cases, the product cannot deliver the promised performance, capability or attract sufficient interest.
Even if potential can be demonstrated early on, it may take a substantial amount of time to reach the projected adoption figures. Or the product’s innovative feature is being replicated by an existing product as an added function and there is no need for a stand alone new product. Or the economics of the new product is not attractive enough and cannot hit a critical mass. Insight into the minds of the early adopters can greatly reduce the risks of failure, which is generally due to one or more of the following reasons:
- The innovative new products are not shown in the right user context thus creating a misunderstanding of the applications
- The new technologies behind the innovative product are not linked to an exciting and worthwhile market opportunity or are too niche
- The innovative new products are not positioned within any product category and also fail to open up a completely new category
- There is insufficient knowledge and resources for marketers to drive consumer adoption
- The core functions of the innovative new products cannot support themselves as stand alone products and only work as features
- The promised performance of the innovative new product does not materialize and does not provide enough customer value
- The innovative new products were distributed through the wrong channel and compromise the value propositions
- The innovative new products perform only a small function and can be included by others in other products as an additional feature thus diminishing the demand
- The expectation of consumers adopting the new products is over estimated
- Products are pushed to a skeptical customer group and fail to neutralize the perceived risks associated with the new product.
The innovative new products require an ecosystem of support which did not exist or was not built fast enough. Determining the suitability of market research for innovative new products or services is a challenge. Insights are not only needed in the early phase of ideas gathering, it is equally critical at the pilot stage. Many traditional market research methods are inherently more tactically focused (orientation on the customers of today) and lead to the development of small improvements in existing products and the big ideas eventually diluted. Read more of this in the next big INSIGHT issue of M/I/S/C available in bookstores in 28 countries.