Why Innovative Products Fail
What leads some innovations to succeed and others to fail? The answer to this question encompasses a number of different factors. In some cases, the product cannot deliver the promised performance, capability or attract sufficient interest. Even if potential can be demonstrated early on, it may take a substantial amount of time to reach the projected adoption figures. Or the product’s innovative feature is being replicated by an existing product as an added function and there is no need for a stand alone new product. Or the economics of the new product is not attractive enough and cannot hit a critical mass.
Insight into the minds of the early adopters can greatly reduce the risks of failure, which is generally due to one or more of the following reasons:
- The innovative new products are not shown in the right user context thus creating a misunderstanding of the applications
- The new technologies behind the innovative product are not linked to an exciting and worthwhile market opportunity or are too niche
- The innovative new products are not positioned within any product category and also fail to open up a completely new category
- There is insufficient knowledge and resources for marketers to drive consumer adoption
- The promised performance of the innovative new product does not materialize and does not provide enough customer value
- The innovative new products were distributed through the wrong channel and compromise the value propositions
- The innovative new products perform only a small function and can be included by others in other products as an additional feature thus diminishing the demand
- The expectation of consumers adopting the new products is over estimated
- Products are pushed to a skeptical customer group
- and fail to neutralize the perceived risks associated with the new product.
- The innovative new products require an ecosystem of support which did not exist or were not built fast enough.
Determining the suitability of market research for innovative new products or services is a challenge. Insights are not only needed in the early phase of ideas gathering, it is equally critical at the pilot stage. Many traditional market research methods are inherently more tactically focused (orientation on the customers of today) and lead to the development of small improvements in existing products.
The information displaying market need for radical innovation projects is by contrast orientated towards the future (products and services yet to exist). Much research focuses on whether a consumer is ‘liking’ an innovative product but new product designers need inspiration and guidance based on measures that go way beyond the simple ‘like.’ There is a need for insights in how products impact consumers’ lives, self-identity, and social behavior on an emotional level. The need for sensory research that emphasizes a choice measurement becomes very important. Many research methodologies fail to progress from a reductionist approach towards the emergent. While this is necessary, it is a very common situation that will take some time to evolve.
Bonus Content: The Innovation Graveyard