Many market flops could have been prevented by soliciting user feedback. It’s vital to submit new products to market research for feedback, using tools such as online focus groups. This is one of the phases of product testing with which wise companies follow through. However, sometimes, after favorable feedback, companies forget that a great product requires a lot of work and revision based on feedback from the initial testing phase. When they fail to change the product, or just completely skip testing their product, disasters happen. Companies can go under after just one failed product, especially after they threw much of their money at it.
Crystal Pepsi was a product that came out in 1992 in an effort to keep up with a popular market fad. This fad considered clarity to equal purity. Ivory soap started this trend in the early 1990s, and after successfully remaking the product, Pepsi thought it could do the same. They marketed Crystal Pepsi as a clear alternative to other colas, marketing it as pure and healthy.
Better market research and listening to consumers should have been a clear indication to Pepsi that their new version would not be the success they hoped for. Consumers suggested the product tasted different, though it was made from essentially the same ingredients. Additionally, Pepsi’s existing consumers already showed they were willing to purchase the normal “dark” version. By simply removing the color from the product, Pepsi was neither serving their existing customers’ needs, nor appealing to those that preferred an “un-cola” alternative.
Premier Smokeless Cigarettes
The cigarette that e-cigarettes spawned from was the Premier smokeless cigarette from R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in the late 1980s. This product ultimately failed miserably and was almost the end for the company after they invested $325 million and several years developing it. They intended the product to safely deliver nicotine via aerosolizing the tobacco, similar to what current e-cigarettes do.
According to an article in the New York Times at the time, the company began to test markets in Arizona and Missouri to see if consumers would enjoy the new cigarette. Consumers complained that the cigarette smelled like burning plastic and did not have a favorable taste, but, rather than adapt the product, the company decided to wait to see if it could build a base of faithful users. In the end, that was never realized, and the cigarette was pulled from the shelves.
JC Penney hired Ron Johnson as CEO to help breathe new life into the brand and change the face of mass retail nationwide. Johnson was previously the head of retail for Apple and transformed the way that consumers shopped for personal electronics. The goal at JC Penney was to refresh the brand and win greater market share from rivals such as Macy’s.
However, the company did not take into account the desires of their customers and quickly learned that the same marketing strategies do not work for every store. Johnson changed the brand to simply JCP and decided that prices for products would be round numbers that would be priced lower. JCP also announced that it would discontinue sales and promotions in order to show customers that their prices were the best year round. Customers heard “no sales” and turned away from the store. After 17 months, Johnson was out.
These examples are just a few that show the importance of conducting and listening to market research. For more information about the importance of product testing and market research, contact us at e-FocusGroups by phone at (707) 585-7363.