Why Most Innovative Products Fail and How to Make Sure Yours ThrivesHave a great idea? Do you see yourself as the next Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook), Biz Stone (Twitter), or Steven Jobs (Apple) with a multi-billion dollar company? Innovation not only creates wealth for individuals, it fuels the economy — most employment comes from innovative companies.

Yet, nearly ALL innovative products fail. In fact, Zuckerberg, Stone, and Jobs represent the 10-15% of innovations that actually survive.

Why do so many innovations fail?

A number of factors contribute to innovation failure — lack of funding, operational problems, bad timing. But, by far, the biggest reason for innovation failure is …….. bad marketing.

Solving problems

Consumers DON’T buy products — they buy solutions. Consumers have problems and they buy things that solve these problems.

Creating an innovative product just because YOU like can is a recipe for failure. So, can creating an innovative product because YOU think it’s needed.

I was hired by a premier scientific supply firm to do a feasibility study on a new product they’d created. The engineers were convinced the product would make tons of profits because it had all kinds of bells and whistles that differentiated it from competitors. But, were consumers excited about this product?


I interviewed several customers, conducted a focus group and surveyed aver 300 customers. Our report detailed why prospective customers didn’t want the product — it was seen as too complicated, too expensive, and subject to frequent breakdowns.

The engineers created something because they could.

Customers saw the product as creating problems not solving them.

Build a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door.

This is [email protected]#$.

I don’t care how GREAT your product is, NO ONE can buy it if they don’t know it exists.

Marketing Informs and Persuades

Marketing is the tool for telling the world you exist.

Marketing is the tool for telling folks how your product will help them (refer to my first point).

Marketing is the tool to create word of mouth and motivating social sharing (social media).

Marketing Prices

Marketing determines how much to charge for your product. Pricing not only determines who will buy your product, but often conveys information about the quality of your brand.

Marketing Distributes

Marketing decides where and how to sell your innovative product. Marketing ensures customers know where to find your product, will find your product when they look for it, and builds the brand in terms of supporting the supply chain.

So, if your marketing isn’t done right, your product will FAIL.

Poor product quality

This can destroy even an established brand, but it’s the kiss of death for innovative products.

You remember the old adage:

You only get one chance to make a first impression

Well, that’s especially true for new products. You only get one chance to show buyers how cool it is. If the product quality doesn’t meet expectations — your product fails.

How to help your innovative product succeed

A. Find a solution

This doesn’t have to be a major market research effort. In fact people often don’t have a clear idea of what they need.

So, talk to them. Watch them.

Apple is so successful in product innovation not because they ask customers what they want, but because they KNOW their customers and anticipate ways to make their lives easier. No one went to Steve Jobs and said they wanted a tablet computer. Apple recognized that people were carrying multiple devices to do common mobile tasks such as surfing the web (computer or smartphone), reading (Kindle), watching videos (mobile TV/VCRs), and play games (Nintendo DS). Folks were lugging heavy computers and multiple devices.

Enter the tablet computer, which can do many of these things in a single device, especially when you don’t need the computing power of a computer.

B. Focus on creating high quality innovative products and superior customer service

C. Hire a great marketing team

D. Be CAREFUL with venture capital — the cost of that money may be VERY high.