At the heart of the free market system is the interplay of reward and risk. Companies that grow have visionaries at the helm and in their development departments who are always creating the next big thing. The reward is higher profits and larger market share. The risk is developing a product that fails spectacularly, hurting the bottom line, damaging a company’s brand, or even forcing the company to close.
24/7 Wall St. reviewed some of the greatest recent product launch blunders to identify the biggest product flops of the decade. We selected these products based primarily on the expectations that companies, investors, and consumers had placed in them – and how far short they fell. The products cover a range of industries, including tech, auto, fashion, media, and food, and are ranked in no particular order other than the year of their launch. (Here’s a list of the biggest food and drink flops in recent history.)
Products fail to resonate with consumers for lots of reasons: inability to find a niche in a crowded field; failure to offer something new or different; ineffective advertising or promotion; some kind of scandal or problem associated with the item…. Or sometimes, they’re just not any good. (That was also probably the case with these 29 absurd military projects that were canceled almost immediately.)
No company has been immune to failure. The most celebrated product blunder ever was probably Ford’s launch of the Edsel, an automobile vilified by critics as soon as it rolled off the assembly line in 1958 for both its styling and its overall low quality.
Many of the products facing consumer scrutiny today have been developed by America’s premier technology companies. They all have suffered the ignominy of product failure and had to account for the loss in research and development costs on their balance sheet.
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