10th of March 2023

By Dr Arry Tanusondjaja Senior Marketing Scientist Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
By Dr Kirsten Victory Senior Marketing Scientist Ehrenberg-Bass Institute
Published by Marketing Week See original article

The road to innovation is paved with abandoned products – don’t let yours be one of them

With so many new product launches failing to exist even just one year later, brands must ensure they have clear strategic intent when bringing new lines to market.

Research at the Ehrenberg-Bass Institute shows new product launches can be a risky undertaking for brand owners. Investigating 83,719 new product introductions over an eight-year period, the research finds around one in four new products failed to survive one year after launch. This failure rate increased to around 40% two years after launch.

We are interested to see if products that are awarded ‘Product of the Year’ status still exist years after they were given this title. The products were likely to be new launches, but might also include recent products that were promoted in the following year. We investigated the introductions that were included in the Product of the Year Awards. Product of the Year items are the results of more than 10,000 shopper votes, once brand owners nominate their products to be included in the survey within a particular year. Winners of each category can then attach the Product of the Year logo on their packs and marketing material at a fee.

To be eligible for the award, nominated products had to be launched within the previous two years, with an innovation in one or more aspects that may include new design, packaging, recipe or functionality.

Looking at past winners, we wanted to see how many were still available for purchase now. We looked online to find out if they still exist – then we also checked the online shopping sites of major supermarket chains (Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda, and Morrisons) as well as Amazon and minor supermarket sites, if they are specified.

Even great new products still need to apply the fundamental laws of marketing growth – otherwise, we are just risking them being added to the list of abandoned products on the road to innovation.

We discovered that half of the products of the year in 2018 could no longer be found online for purchase, whereas approximately one in three products from 2019 and 2020 were also not available already. Most are discontinued, although a number have morphed into similar products that were launched later.

The results suggest that many product launches are not necessarily done with strategic long-term thinking in mind – and perhaps they are needed to address immediate competitive pressures. However, given the cost of R&D, production, packaging, launch support, as well as ensuring that new products are well promoted and well distributed – it may be prudent for brand owners to rethink their innovation strategy.

Read the full article in Marketing Week.


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