The Bunker is back doing another fun article on products that were begging for market research.  If you haven’t read our first article, here it is: Products that Were Begging for Market Research – Part 1.  One of the most important objectives of market research is to develop new products and services that match what the market is looking for.  Here are some more products that could have put a little more effort into market research.

5) Thirsty Dog / Thirsty Cat

Market Research Product Flops Failures

How did this product go wrong?  Every dog or cat surely is drooling over the thought of crispy beef or tangy fish flavored water!  Testing this product with pets may have made all signs point to go, but unfortunately for this pet flavored water, it has to pass the approval of the owners first, preferably not through taste tests.

RMS Suggestion: A properly executed survey may have put a quick end to this product, with those who would be purchasing the product (not dogs and cats).  It would have shown how unlikely pet owners would be to purchase it.  Either the thought of meat flavored water wasn’t appealing, or pet owners didn’t feel the need to buy flavored water as a way to pamper their pet.

6) Lifesavers Drink

Market Research for Product Flops and Failures

Everyone loves candy, but occasionally people have to limit themselves for the sake of not getting sick.  The perception of this product was comparable to consuming a bottle of liquid candy.    The bunker wasn’t able to find any research on whether or not Nabisco considered Oreo cookie soda or a Fig Newton drink to add to their line of beverages.

RMS Suggestion: While taste testing research may have shown positive results (in small doses), doing a study to understand consumer perception of the product and its brand would have been the key to understanding why consumers might have judged the product before purchasing.  Some one-on-one interviews could have been used for this type of situation.  Using market research to initiate a dialogue with consumers before they simply just tasted the product would have proved useful; useful unless the research was done with candy-obsessed 4-year-olds.

7) Gerber Singles

Market Research for Product Flops and Failures

There have always been people out there looking for on-the-go food, so why not puree your favorite dish and throw it in a baby jar?  Easy enough, right?  Unfortunately for Gerber, the idea of eating creamed beef out of a jar didn’t sit too well with the more elderly consumer, you know, the ones with teeth, the ones older than 12 months…

RMS Suggestion: Market research by Gerber would have immediately uncovered this hesitation from consumers.  A focus group consisting of their target market (single adults, college students, those needing quick food options, etc.) could have helped Gerber understand why this product wouldn’t work among a different target audience.

8 ) New Jell-O Flavors

Market Reserach for Product Flops and FailuresBack in the 1960s, Jell-O explored a couple new flavors for their well-known product.  They veered away from their sweet tasting dessert and ventured into new territory by tackling the innovative flavor ideas such as celery, mixed vegetable, seasoned tomato, and Italian salad.  Mmm, sounds delicious Mr. Cosby. 

RMS Suggestion: Market research for this product would have explored people’s thoughts regarding the product, before they tried it.  If people are not willing to accept the idea of a jiggly vegetable flavored substance, they might not be willing to buy it, or even want to test it out.  Any research would have given a little insight into whether consumers would be open to these new Jell-O flavors. 

It can be surprising how some products make it past the idea stage.  Some of the products may taste or be quite delicious, but the lesson here is that there are many more aspects in determining the success of a product beyond an initial taste test.  A lot of it has to do with people’s perception of a brand or product and who, what, and how they relate to it.

While these may be some of the extreme examples of product failures, companies still make similar smaller scale mistakes today.  Whether they set aside the importance of market research, or don’t approach it the right way, there are companies still launching new products bound to fail.  Approaching market research from different angles allows companies to get a good understanding of the consumer thought process, enabling them to better predict the outcome of rolling out a new product or service.  It will also show how initial “try it out” taste tests and early purchasing patterns are not accurate predictors of a product’s long-term success.  But that’s a Crystal Pepsi story for another day.