As companies grow in both size and revenue, so do their ability to take larger risks. Sometimes those risks pan out and can end up being a goldmine of revenue and ingenuity. Other times they fail so hard you might wonder what they were envisioning in the first place. Where these products failed in their quest to satisfy customers, you can learn to help avoid the same mistakes with your products.
Here are five of the worst products in history:
Although Orbitz tried an interesting way of appealing to young kids by making their soda look like a lava lamp, it fell flat, and not just the carbonation. The taste was reportedly similar to that of cough syrup, and the product disappeared within the year. It was made by the The Clearly Food & Beverage Company of Canada.
The drink was made with floating edible balls that were supposed to add texture to the soda, but the taste and odd appearance contributed to its downfall.
Frito-Lay WOW! Chips
In 1996, a compound called “Olestra” was approved by the FDA as a substitute for fat. It was meant to reduce calories and help people lose weight.
Frito-Lay introduced WOW! Chips that was made using Olestra to bring a fat-free potato chip to the market.
There was just one small issue.
It turns out that Olestra can’t be absorbed or digested by the body. This gave the chip the effects of a laxative, and many people experienced abdominal pains, stomach cramps, diarrhea, and on some occasions, incontinence.
People were exclaiming WOW! for unintended reasons, and the chips were shortly taken off shelves.
Clairol Touch of Yogurt Shampoo
When Clairol released their “Touch of Yogurt” shampoo in 1979, they were looking to use more natural ingredients for their products. Many shampoos used ingredients such as honey, herbs, and fruits. Most soaps contain some form of animal fat, so why not yogurt?
As it turns out, most people don’t like the idea of putting dairy products in their hair. That combined with some people being confused and ingesting the product, led to market failure. This wasn’t Clairol’s first venture into milk based hair products. Some years earlier they put out a shampoo called, ‘Look of Buttermilk’. Suffice to say, neither products are available in the U.S. anymore.
Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7
What makes a good phone? Is it battery life? The number of songs you can have on it? The quality of the pictures it takes? Hardware capability?
Well after the Galaxy Note 7 was released, most people would say a good phone doesn’t explode randomly. There were issues with the battery which caused the phone to catch fire. One person’s jeep was set alight in flame. Another’s phone exploded in their pocket, causing burns.
The phone was soon recalled.
Interestingly, the note line survived the series of events and Samsung is now selling the Galaxy Note 8.
In 1957, Ford came out with the Edsel car. Named after Henry Ford’s only son, the car was an attempt to offer a higher end vehicle to consumers.
The car ended up costing the company at least $350,000,000, which, in today’s dollars, equals roughly about $2.9 billion. Ford used costly teaser ads that pushed consumers’ expectations of the car too high.
The car boasted teletouch push-button transmission and electronic controls that were said to be groundbreaking, but in reality were unreliable. The car was also pricey, ranging from $2,500.00 for the four door sedan version to $3,766.00 for the 2 door convertible version.
It also received criticism for its grille, which was compared to a toilet seat cover.
Avoiding Mistakes With Your Own Products
These products demonstrate the importance of understanding your target audience, doing market research and testing to prevent product failure. Though you will hopefully never have to deal with exploding batteries, understanding what your market is receptive to, what they like and dislike, is crucial to success. Doing market research for your customers and appropriate product testing will help you avoid the same mistakes.
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