Surely you have already heard this funny story about Henry Ford.
To the question of how he had chosen the message to communicate to the public for the launch of his first cars, he replied: “If I had asked my potential customers what they wanted, they would have replied… a faster horse!”.
And it was true! The car had not yet entered the “conscience” of people, and even though it was in fact a far superior product to horses, it would never have been taken into consideration.
Before coming to this intuition, Mr. Ford had to endure several commercial failures, until he realized that the only way to make customers understand is to speak in their own language.
Of course Henry Ford never advertised “fast horses,” but it’s shows how he was aware of the importance of connecting with consumers’ thoughts and perceptions.
Today more than ever, this aspect is very important to be able to sell successfully, and it is something that you should do too, especially if you are planning to launch a new product on the market.
Unfortunately, it is not a simple thing, or rather, like all things, it is not easy if you don’t know how to do it: 70% of new product launches turn out to be a complete failure, which means that finding someone who can really help you it is not easy at all.
I wouldn’t want to go through a hoodoo, but the numbers speak for themselves.
According to a study by Professor Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School, more than 30.000 new consumer products are launched every year and 80% of them fail.
According to Professor Inez Blackburn of the University of Toronto, the failure rate of new products launched in the food sector is 70-80%.
To close the circle, a statistic of Nielsen affirms that more than 85% of the new “consumer goods packaged” fails.
As you can see, it is not me who brings bad luck, but it is the reality of the facts, and if you are planning to launch a new product on the market, know that you too will have to deal with these pitiless statistics.
This data pushes anyone who is struggling with the introduction of a new product on the market to ask questions.
What are the causes that lead to these disastrous results?
But above all, how can I prevent this scourge from falling right on me?
Obviously there is no single specific cause, there are several, obviously linked to the different circumstances and contexts.
But if you ask the agencies that deal with the launch of new products, the answer is mainly one: companies are so concentrated in the design and production of new products that leave out the marketing set-up.
According to their daily experience, companies, while using time and resources in the care of the details of the product, do not realize that they are leaving out the moist important factor for the commercial success of their products.
So, apparently, we are facing with a simple marketing problem.
Therefore, let’s try to look at this situation with the lens of the classic 4 Ps, which represent the foundation of a marketing strategy: the Product, the Price, the Point of Sale/Distribution and the Promotion.
We have seen that the product is not a problem, indeed, it is properly developed and companies spend a lot of time on research and development.
Even the determination of prices is not critical, provided you follow some basic rules.
The big changes that are distorting retail distribution no longer allow a mere discount sale related to quantity, as could be done until a few years ago, but more is needed.
I wrote recently, If you want to read the article you can find it here.
Also the choice of the distribution channel is not a critical aspect, as long as it is oriented towards the balance between the production capacity of the company and the sales margins of the channel.
But where, according to industry operators, there are serious shortcomings, it is in the planning of marketing and promotion.
Personally I got an idea about it, and I think this approach is linked to an old way of thinking, which goes back to the time when markets weren’t as competitive as they are today and where the main goal of a manufacturing company it was the sell-out, that is the direct sale to the retailers, and that it was enough to be present in the sales points to obtain good commercial results. But then again, it’s just my personal consideration.
Maintaining this type of market approach means leaving one’s destiny in the hands of those who, almost certainly, do not have the skills and organization to effectively sell your products.
However, looking at things in a positive way, in this case, even your competitors have the same problem (… and it precisely by exploring this circumstance that you could checkmate it).
So it happens that this aspect is only taken into consideration shortly before starting product deliveries: too late.
Probably you will have found yourself in this situation, and when deciding how to promote sales of your new product, you will have decided to use advertising campaigns and use traditional media, both online and off-line.
But it is precisely at this moment that you received the bitter surprise.
You have realized that the costs associated with these activities are much higher than you expected, and that someone in the company has blocked everything, with a peremptory “we are not in it!”.
Obviously, given the imminent release of the product, panic spreads in the company, complicating the situation even more.
Taken by the fear of what could happen in case of failure to exit the product, try to find the least risky solution, that is to replicate what all your competitors already do. Maybe trying to spend even less.
I honestly believe that anyone in this situation would put themselves on the defensive, thinking that, “if things go wrong, at least we have spent little. And anyway the important thing is to be present in the stores: the product is of quality and the consumers will understand it”.
Unfortunately, what your costumers will understand will be only one thing, namely the poor quality of the products you sell.
And obviously not because they really are, but because they will be perceived as mediocre.
I realize how frustrating it is to get certain results after so much energy and money spent, sometimes even risking losing a job, or worse, blowing up the company. But today consumers are extremely demanding, and follow precise rules for making their purchases.
It is true that the competition has led companies to continuously improve the products and services offered, but has also highlighted a determining factor for the commercial success of a product: marketing.
Exactly, marketing, which as I understand it, net of thousands of interpretations that are read around, means “explaining” to the customer why he should buy from you.
In other words, offer him a valid reason to buy your products instead of those of the competition. The rest is entertainment.
The great Jack Trout, creator along with Al Ries of the concept of brand positioning, has discovered that American families, on average, repeatedly buy the same 150 articles, which constitute up to 85% of their domestic needs.
This highlights the fact that is very difficult to change consumers’ habits, and that the only way to do this is to “tempt the tastebuds of them”. Indeed, as Trout and Ries say, to enter them in the mind.
It is a know fact that, today, we are bombarded with hundreds of advertisements, which we often do not even notice if we do not even feel annoyed.
Now, unless you have a really strong brand, the only possibility you have to emerge from thousands of competitors is to make yourself VISIBLE and UNIQUE in the eyes of the customer.
But the truth is that today making oneself visible and above all unique in a store is not an easy thing, since consumers not only demand more, that is they demand products of ever increasing quality, but they are also refractory to certain old advertising stimuli.
That’s why most new product launches fail.
Because without a precise strategy that has as its main objective the perception of the product by consumers, the only result you can get is that your product is perceived as everyone else.
And in this case, against the harsh law of the market, your efforts, work and money invested will not be able to do anything: people buy the product they perceive as unique and best or the least expensive.
You decide which way to stay.
Of course, if it were easy there would not be 70% of unsuccessful cases, no one spontaneously throws himself into an arena where it is almost certain that he will be torn to pieces by wild beasts.
But this things have changed too quickly, and sometimes it’s really hard to keep up with the times. Not to mention that to hinder your projects you also put superiors, colleagues and friends, who instead of encouraging you, urge you to stay put, to do what everyone does, fogged by believing that, if you have always done so, then it goes so good.
Ok, but if they were right, why is 70% of the launches a failure instead of a success? And why do companies continue to struggle and face each other on the downside?
Obviously there is something that does not come back.
Do not believe their words, the solution exists, and is closer, more viable and safer than you may believe…
Sell & Succeed.
PS: I really recommend you to read the book by Trout & Ries “Positioning”: it is enlightening.
PPS: If you want to find out how to make your products the best of all others in the eyes of consumers and find the hidden resources that you already have, but that you are wasting instead of investing them in the growth and development of your company, I invite you to click HERE. The More Sales with No Hassles system was born precisely for this.