How to Avoid a Product “Flop” – Part 1 of 3

Picture this…

Your brand just launched a new product that you’re hoping will fly off physical and digital shelves.

You and your team have been working for more than a year to research and develop a unique product formulation, design compelling packaging and promotions aimed at today’s health-conscious consumer, and position product pricing in just the right way to maximize eyeballs and conversions.

What’s more, you have even earmarked 10’s to 100’s of thousands of dollars towards marketing and advertising and spent hundreds of hours training your Field Sales Team to gain retail penetration and land new accounts.

What could possibly go wrong? Well, the stark reality is that 85% of new products today typically fail– meaning the odds are not in your favor. To avoid being in the 85% as a product flop, I’ve put together key tips to increase the likelihood that your new product will succeed: 

  1. Validate your idea with competitive intel.
  2. Dial into leading indicators to know what product trends will actually stick.
  3. Pay attention to the attributes that are driving consumers’ purchasing decisions. 

In this blog, I’ll cover #1. Stay tuned for my upcoming posts to learn about #2 and #3. 

Tip #1: Validate Your Idea With Competitive Intel

As an example– in the dietary supplement industry, a researcher may have a promising idea for a new product that is scientifically-backed and beneficial to the consumer. However, with the high cost of R&D today, simply having a good idea is not enough to get buy-in from the Executive Team. You also need to prove that the good idea you have will SELL and BE CASH FLOW POSITIVE. Are your consumers willing to pay? To what extent and how often? 

Identify what competitors are doing right 

A straightforward way to validate that consumers are willing to pay for a product is to research if your competitors are selling something similar and understand how that product is performing. 

A ClearCut Analytics client recently pointed out to us:

“To know that our competitive colleagues are also finding value in a product, then we are more confident there will be a return on investment on ours.” 

In other words, knowing that a competitor you hold in high regard is having success shouldn’t deter you from entering the category. In fact, that traction is often the proof you need to show your Executive Team that consumers are demanding a product and the category is ripe for taking market share, even if you are #4, #5 or #15 to enter. At ClearCut, we call this being a “fast follower.” More on that in the next section.

Find ways to outwit the competition

So, at this point, you know the product you want to launch sells because other brands have carved out a market for it. Good start, but now what? 

As a “fast follower,” you have a unique advantage to capitalize on the mistakes of your competitors and capture more share. Here are some considerations to take into account when finalizing the development of your product or product line: 

  • Can your brand add an ingredient to position the product with multiple benefits? (e.g., a new symbiotic blend that supports sleep, stress and immunity)
  • Can you layer in a raw material that’s quality and proven to help you make more substantial claims (on the label and packaging) that your competitors cannot? Make sure to consult your Legal Team 🙂
  • Is your brand able to manufacture an alternative size, dosage or delivery method that is currently untapped or under-indexed?
  • Can your brand innovate with its branding, packaging, pricing, or promotion? 


Here’s the important thing to remember: people don’t typically remember who leads a race at the half-way point. They care about who crosses the finish line. So, it’s not always important to get into a category first, but it is important how you accelerate the path to a breakthrough idea.  

Share your idea with the Executive Team

In addition to your product formulation, you now have the market data to present your idea in a highly compelling way to the Executive Team:

  • The product or product line(s) you hope to develop is now proven to sell — and sell well.
  • Trusted brands may have entered the category first, but you’ve already considered, or even identified, ways to iterate on where you see opportunities or competitors’ missteps.  

The preparation for this meeting may have involved a few extra steps, but should better position you to drive the dialogue towards a “Yes” for your product, and most importantly– avoid a product flop!

Have questions about this tip? Schedule a time to chat with me here, and stay tuned for the remainder of my tips on how to best avoid a product flop.