Why 95% of new products fail.

Picture this.

It’s 1985. You’re at a party, killing it in a pair of acid-washed, cut-off denim shorts and a hot pink top. A friend walks by with a can of Coke.

“Try this,” she says.

You pull back the tab, take a sip, and … make a face.

“What’s that?” 

It’s New Coke. 

Thirty-six years later we’re still talking about the Cola Wars. All so we can avoid a similar fate.1 Before I go into that, let me refresh your memory — of a time when perms were still in. 

It was a war.

Coke had lost market share to Pepsi for 15 years.

Then, Pepsi made a brilliant marketing move. They did blind taste tests against Coke and filmed them. In the tests, of course, Pepsi beat Coke each time … with a better, sweeter taste.

Coke panicked.

And, made a knee-jerk move. They pushed out “New Coke” — a brand-new recipe. Their target market was so unhappy, they sent in letters begging the brand to bring back the original flavor. Lots of money, time, and brand trust were lost.

So, why do I bring this up?

Because 30,000 new products go to market and 95% fail2 — every year. 

Read that again.

95% fail.

Here’s another fact.

When they fail, 31% blame the retailer.3 Sure, 51% realize the manufacturer has a lot to do with it, but a ton of eyes fixate on the stores too.

You heard that right.

Retailers get blamed for carrying an item that doesn’t fit buyers’ needs. That’s bad for business because their disappointment bleeds into future shopping behaviors. It’s why retailers have to be extra careful when bringing new products to market.

So what gives? 

There must be a reason so many new products fail.

There is.

It all comes back to … research.

Now, I know you’ve got a killer pre-launch market research plan. But, let me ask you this — how do you determine the product’s success after its launch?

If you said — wait to see sales data — you’re in trouble.

You’re flying blind.

See, in a product launch, you have two blind spots. The first one happens at launch. It’s quiet. You push your beautiful, fledgling product out of the nest. And you wait. You don’t know if consumers love it or hate it, yet. You’re blind until sales data come in.


Then, your second obstacle comes in. See, once you have the sales data, you still have no details on why it flew or flopped.

Uh oh.

Now, let’s go back to 1985, to talk about why that’s a problem.

New Coke failed 79 days after its initial product launch.1 So, what had they overlooked in their market research?

A new product trial.

You see, even though Coca-Cola carried out taste tests before launch, they failed to paint a full picture of what the market wanted. They didn’t talk to their target market in-store and at home. So, they never got a sample to fully test the product.

Millions were lost.

The emotional attachment was overlooked, and an all-new taste cut off their core audience.

So what’s the lesson, here? 

Get clarity, quickly.

Remove your bind spots by talking to consumers in that hazy period between product launch and sales. Find out quickly if the market likes — or doesn’t like — what you’re offering. Now, back in 1985, that kind of market research didn’t exist.

But, now it does …

So, take advantage of it.

Get the quality data you deserve to make decisions quickly. Talk to category shoppers inside the store and again at home. Find out what they love about the look, feel, and taste. Ask what they’d change.

It’s what Coca-Cola just did. They launched a new product trial with Coke + coffee. Check it out. Use it, and these free consumer insights, to stay a step ahead of the competition.

It’s how you’ll win.


  1. https://www.b2bmarketing.net/en/resources/blog/4-product-launch-failures-and-what-we-can-learn-them
  2. https://www.inc.com/marc-emmer/95-percent-of-new-products-fail-here-are-6-steps-to-make-sure-yours-dont.html
  3. https://news.nd.edu/news/consumers-blame-both-manufacturer-and-retailer-when-products-fail-study-shows/

By Maksym Minin

Reviewed by Cathy Karcher

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