Launching to the Stars: Tips to Avoid Product Launch Failure - The Blytheco Blog
Launching to the Stars: Tips to Avoid Product Launch Failure

Launching to the Stars: Tips to Avoid Product Launch Failure

The April ’11 edition of the Harvard Business Review indicates that 75% of all product launches fail. Yikes! What a number?! If you’ve been following my past articles, you know that I’m a big fan of Harvard Business Review (HBR) and really, their articles are what propel many of my thoughts. This month’s edition focuses on failure and how to learn from it, and I couldn’t be happier with the content. Many of my leadership posts have focused on the fact that as leaders we need to drive forward and not be managed by the fear of making mistakes. Often, leaders are stifled with which decision to make, and so they move into inactivity. HBR examines this in their Failure issue and I recommend you pick up a copy if you’ve ever struggled with recovering from a mistake.

One of the articles in their “Idea Watch” section, or their section on innovation and research-in-progress, focuses on why most product launches fail. I wasn’t aware that the number was so high but about 75% of consumer packaged goods and retail products fail to earn enough during their first year to justify success. If you are in manufacturing, that 75% number must be haunting within your product development cycles.

So how do you ensure that your product launch is successful?

Here are 5 common product development/launch flaws:

  1. The company can’t support fast growth.
  2. The product falls short of claims and gets bashed.
  3. The new item exists in product limbo
  4. The product defines a new category and requires substantial consumer education – but doesn’t get it.
  5. The product is revolutionary, but there’s no market for it.

So here are the tips that HBR suggests:

  1. Have a plan to ramp up quickly if the product takes off
  2. Delay your launch until the product is really ready
  3. Test the product to make sure its differences will sway buyers
  4. If consumers can’t quickly grasp how to use your product, it’s toast (abandon)
  5. Don’t gloss over the basic questions “Who will buy this and at what price?”

All of these could be considered product launch 101 tips. The challenge is that in the real world, we are wrestling with trying to find new ways to generate revenue and new products are often looked at as ways to gain quick results. It is a daunting issue that we should be able to resolve with some thought leadership.

I’m wondering if there is anyone out there that would like to join a group with us in open dialogue around this issue in hopes of producing ideas of what successful product launches have done, and what is different of those that have failed. I’m looking for people in manufacturing businesses to join a thought leadership council on this very subject. Anyone game? Post here or e-mail me at

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