Special Report

50 Worst Product Flops of All Time

Source: Courtesy of Colgate

11. Kitchen Entrees
> Company: Colgate
> Year introduced: 1982
> What it was: Frozen meal

Many of the worst product flops in recent memory were caused by otherwise popular brands wandering too far outside of their area of expertise. Colgate Kitchen Entrees may be the best example of such a product failure. When it came to pre-prepared frozen meals, Americans had plenty of options in the 1980s. Perhaps because consumers naturally associated the Colgate name with toothpaste, there was never much of an appetite for pre-made meals bearing the Colgate logo.

Source: Courtesy of Coors Brewing Company

12. Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water
> Company: Coors
> Year introduced: 1990
> What it was: Sparkling water

Coors and Coors Light are two of the most popular beers in the United States. Introducing Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water to the public in 1990, the Coors Brewing Company also sought to capitalize on the fast-growing bottled water segment in the United States. The water was Coors’ first non-alcoholic product since Prohibition. The Coors brand name did not help to sell the product, however, as the beer-name branding may have confused or even frightened consumers. Coors let its trademark of Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water expire in 1997.

Source: Courtesy of Harley-Davidson

13. Harley Davidson perfume
> Company: Harley Davidson
> Year released: 1994
> What it was: Perfume

Harley Davidson is one of the most iconic and valuable brands in the world. It is also one of the more masculine brands. The company has not deviated considerably from this fact, although it has tried. The company released Legendary Harley-Davidson, a cologne for men, among several other varieties, starting in 1994. Another perfume, Black Fire, hit the market as recently as 2005. All are now discontinued. In the 1990s, the company released a number of other products, including wine coolers and aftershave, which after failing miserably have also become classic cases of brand overextension.

Source: Courtesy of Unilever

14. Persil Power
> Holding company: Unilever
> Year released: 1994
> What it was: Stain remover

Unilever introduced Persil Power detergent to the market in 1994. The product utilized a newly patented stain removal formula called Accelerator. The company was so confident in the Accelerator catalyst that it carried out its $300 million introduction of Persil Power without any formal test marketing. Over time, it became clear the detergent was damaging clothes at high temperatures. After nine months on the shelves, the company replaced Persil Power with Persil New Generation, a detergent without the Accelerator compound.

Source: Courtesy of Cosmopolitan

15. Cosmopolitan yogurt
> Company: Cosmopolitan
> Year introduced: 1999
> What it was: Yogurt

Cosmopolitan is a popular women’s magazine, full of fashion advice, dating tips, celebrity gossip, and horoscopes. What the magazine’s leadership was thinking when they expanded the brand’s reach from the magazine aisle to the dairy aisle remains a mystery. Few will likely remember the 1999 debut of Cosmopolitan’s yogurt line, as the short-lived product was only available for 18 months. Like many other products on this list, Cosmopolitan yogurt was a case of a brand reaching too far beyond its area of expertise.

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