This is the third post in a series about why new products fail. The first blog post revealed the four root causes of new product failure.
Last week, I dissected the key reasons why the LaserDisc, Apple Newton, and Segway were such colossal flops.
Why did the Laserdisc, Apple Newton, and Segway fail?
The obvious reasons were too high a price, product design that wasn’t user friendly, and product performance that did not live up to consumer expectations.
However, the root cause of these new product failures was not poor execution. The Laserdisc, Apple Newton, and Segway did not fail simply because the companies made pricing and product design mistakes. The Laserdisc, Apple Newton, and Segway failed because the product concepts themselves were fundamentally flawed. These products did not meet needs or solve problems for the consumer.
Need and purchase interest
I’ve done dozens of product concept tests over the years and have found that there is an almost perfect correlation between need and purchase interest. Why? If consumers don’t think a product will meet a need or solve a problem for them, it is highly unlikely that they will purchase it. Let me illustrate with some data from an online product concept test I conducted a year ago. After respondents read a description and viewed a photo of the NEST Learning Thermostat, I asked them what thier initial reaction was. Here are a couple of their comments: “Sounds like a great idea, since I am always getting in trouble by not adjusting the thermostat before I leave or when I get home!” “I would love to have one. I am always changing the temperature and forget to make it more energy-efficient when I am not home. I love the idea of controlling it with my phone.” These and other spontaneous off-the-top-of-their-head comments reveal that respondents thought the NEST would solve a problem for them. In addition to getting their initial reaction to the product, I asked respondents a number of questions that are designed to to determine purchase interest.
- 67% of survey respondents said that the Nest Learning Thermometer would meet a need or solve a problem for them.
- 66% said they would be interested in purchasing the Nest.
Based on respondents’ ratings and initial comments, there is no doubt that the NEST quite clearly solves a problem for the consumer … and as a result, is a product that consumers want to buy. Now, let’s contrast those findings with the findings for the iKettle, an electric tea kettle that comes with Wi-Fi and its own dedicated smartphone app. Here’s what respondents had to say about the iKettle: “I don’t think this would meet a need for me. My current coffee maker has a timer and it is perfect.” “This is not something that I need. I do not need to control my kettle from my phone.” While the majority of respondents thought the iKettle product description was believable, the product scored poorly on need and purchase interest.
- 8% of respondents said that the iKettle would meet a need or solve a problem for them.
- 9% said they would be interested in purchasing it.
Quite clearly, the i-Kettle neither solved a problem nor met a need.
The secret to new product success
The product must meet an unrealized need or solve a problem for the consumer. If product doesn’t meet a need or solve a problem for the consumer, it will fail. Why? Because if consumers don’t think the product will meet a need or solve a problem for them, it is highly unlikely that they will purchase it.
Do YOUR new products meet unrealized needs or solve problems for the consumer?
I challenge you to look at the products you are developing for 2016 and 2016 through the lens of consumer need. What consumer problem does your new product solve? What unrealized consumer need does your product meet? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you need to find out. An online product concept test is the quickest way to find out if your new product concepts meet a need or solve a problem for the consumer. CLICK HERE to learn more about product concept testing.
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