Bad Product Ideas that could have been avoided by listening to customers.
1- Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo
> Company: Procter & Gamble
> Year released: 1979
Launching a product based on natural elements during the 70’s was a trendy thing for companies to do.
At the time, brands were riding the “back to nature” wave, reinforced by a resurgence of the same hippie culture than had risen to popularity in the 1960’s. ‘All-natural’, ‘organic’ and ‘recycled’ were all buzzwords that companies were eager to cash in on.
Procter and Gamble, and more particularly its subsidiary Clairol, tried to capitalize on this trend by emphasizing the natural aspect of cultured dairy products and yoghurt.
In 1976, the brand specializing in hair-care and style introduced a shampoo called the “Look of Buttermilk” before introducing “the touch of yoghurt” shampoo three years later.
Both failed to appeal to the mass market but did manage to cause a stir after some consumers actually ingested the “touch of yoghurt” shampoo and got sick from it.
Maybe it was a great product, maybe it was a mistake to emphasize yoghurt in a product that wasn’t meant to be consumed.
Either way, the company quickly moved on and hoped that everyone would stop eating their shampoo.
2- Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water
> Company: Adolph Coors Company
> Year released: 1990
Coors, created in 1873, has long highlighted the fact that its beers are “cold brewed with pure rocky mountain spring water”.
This marketing line clearly went to their heads, and in the 1990’s Coors decided to launch its own brand of bottled water, it’s first non-alcoholic beverage since Prohibition.
The move was seen as a chance to expand Coors’ product range, make use of their existing bottling and distribution chains, and respond to the growing awareness of the dangers of alcohol, but the marketing minds that had been so good at playing up the rocky mountain spring water in the beer were not so good at selling it as a standalone product.
Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water used a similar branding to that of Coors beer, something that obviously confused consumers. The line was stopped in 1997 after poor sales, amidst criticism that Coors had been overselling the quality of the water.
It came as no real surprise that the average Coors consumer wasn’t looking for a sparkling water to go along with their six-pack.
3- New Coke
> Company: Coca-Cola Company
> Year released: 1985
Back in the early 1980’s, Pepsi was rapidly gaining market share and Coca Cola was desperate to revitalize a brand that was beginning to look as if it had gone a little flat.
They took the decision to change the recipe and launch New Coke, the first time the company had changed its original recipe in 99 years. The move backfired. It wasn’t so much that people disliked the new recipe, but that they missed the old one.
Groups started forming all across the United States to protest the removal of the beloved product and, after just 77 days, the company was forced to bring back the old recipe with a new name – Coca-Cola Classic.
Launching the new recipe had cost Coca-Cola more than 30 million dollars, but many believe the mishap helped Coke to understand the true power of its brand and to take its place as the world’s dominant player in the beverage industry.
Maybe it is OK to make a big mistake from time-to-time…just so long as you learn from it.
4- Colgate Kitchen Entrees
> Company: Colgate
> Year released: 1982
When Colgate launched it’s kitchen entrees, it was perceived as a logical extension to the existing product lines.
Indeed, after eating Colgate food, people would be more inclined to using the brand’s toothbrush and toothpaste.
But things didn’t go out as planned for Colgate, whose entrees ended up being a total flop as consumers struggled to understand why their toothpaste company was suddenly trying to sell them food.
It turns out that using the same name for food and dental cleaning products was not a good idea, so the product was quickly removed from the market.
5- Bic Underwear
> Company: Bic
> Year released: 1998
Bic is renowned for its disposable pens and lighters. So I am sure we can all agree what the nextlogical step for them was…that’s right, to start selling disposable underwear.
Consumers were unsurprisingly confused.
It didn’t matter how good the underwear was, it was never given a chance to succeed.
It appears that it is difficult to go from marketing pens and lighters to undergarments, and the product line was quickly removed from the market and forgotten.
6- Harley Davidson perfume:
> Company: Harley Davidson
> Year released: 1994
In the 1990’s Harley Davidson Bikes were trendy. Owning one was a sign of masculinity, freedom, toughness, achievement, and raw power.
The company had established itself as such an iconic brand that it didn’t matter whether their bikes rarely came with all of the latest bells and whistles.
Buying a Harley Davidson is often more than just a bike purchase, it’s a lifestyle choice, but it is fair to say that the company may have misunderstood what that lifestyle might contain.
When Harley started selling wine coolers, aftershave, and perfumes, even its most loyal fans didn’t feel that they could make the products fit into the values and brand image that they had grown to love.
Harley decided to pull the products after poor sales and strong criticism from loyal customers. A good example of a company not having the finger on the pulse of what its customers expected from it.
7- Qwikster by Netflix
> Company: Netflix
> Year released: 2011
In 2011, Netflix decided to separate its online and DVD-by-mail services.
The objective was to make all of the videos that weren’t available through the streaming service rentable through the Qwikster mail option.
The launch got off to a bad start when the announcement was placed at the end of a letter of apology intended to calm users angry over rising prices. Users saw it as a way to distract them from the real problem, and was seen as unnecessary and outdated.
If the Qwikster concept had left Netflix users scratching their heads, they were completely put off by the fact that they had to create a new account on a new website in order to gain access to the service.
This meant that they had to re-enter their personal details, rate the same movies on two different platforms, and get billed from two different entities owned by the same company.
After a month, and after being mocked for its name, its service, and the lack of vision surrounding its launch, the Qwikster platform was dropped.
8- Coca-Cola BlaK
> Company: Coca-Cola
> Year released: 2006
Introduced in 2006 and discontinued two years later in 2008, Coca-Cola BlaK was Coke’s attempts to break into the energy drink industry.
Unfortunately for them, even though the product was a success in France, it failed to make any inroads in the United States, where consumers felt that the coke-to-caffeine ratio was poor and that it didn’t have the same energy-boosting effects of rivals like Red Bull.
The product range also failed to strike a chord with purists, who felt that Coke needed to choose between launching another variation of Coke or trying their hand at a real energy drink.
The packaging looked cheap, (Image) an eight inch glass bottle covered with a plastic overwrap that obscured the bottle and made the product feel like it was an afterthought.
Coca-Cola BlaK failed to give the company wings, and Coke quickly gave up on the idea of launching a Coke-branded energy drink.
9- Facebook home
> Company: Facebook
> Year released: 2013
In April 2013, Facebook launched Facebook Home, an Android application that changed the entire look and feel of any phone on which it is installed.
A lot of marketing and commercial efforts were put into this initiative: a huge conference announced its launching, commercials aired, and a new HTC phone was designed, co-branded by Facebook, that came with Facebook Home pre-installed.
Unfortunately for Facebook, it was a huge flop, and the majority of Facebook users never downloaded the app…those who did were left disappointed and confused.
So why did the product fail? Many specialists point out the fact that Facebook Home let down Android users by not integrating widgets, docs and app folders.
Apparently, the team behind the development of the application was mainly formed by Iphone users who weren’t familiar enough with the Android environment and the features used.
After a month, the results were embarrassing, the application was only downloaded a million times and HTC had to cut the price of its phone.
Things got worse when Samsung abandoned the idea of launching their own Facebook phone, and Sony, Lenovo, ZTE, and Huawei quickly followed suit.
10- Satisfries by Burger King:
> Company: Burger King
> Year released: 2013
Satisfries were launched in 2013 as a healthy alternative to your regular french fries, but failed to catch on.
After less than a year, Burger King gave franchises the right to abandon the idea, and only one third of their nearly 7,500 franchises decided to stick with the product.
Where had Burger King gone wrong with an idea that seemed to be a good response to the health food movement?
Satisfries were more expensive than your regular fries and, even when people weren’t making fun of the name (calling it saddest fries), they were pointing out the fact that they remained fatter than the regular fries at Mcdonald’s, and so were hardly the healthy fast food fry option.
On top of that, Burger King fans felt that the creation of Satisfries was only a PR stunt to convince the consumers that Burger King could be a health fast food option.
Burger King was fighting against the likes of Chipotle and Panera Bread, chains that emphasized locally sourced ingredients and healthy alternatives.
It turns out that most consumers understood that Burger King wasn’t the healthy option. Sometimes you just want the fries you love…