If You Buy The Stuff No One Else Likes, You Just May Be A “Harbinger Of Failure”

If you’re still crying into your pillow at night over the demise of the Zune MP3 player or Crystal Pepsi, take a long, hard look into the mirror: Your shopping habits might have foretold the doom of your favorite, discontinued products. At least, according to a group of researchers pointing the finger at certain early adopters.

In a study published in the Journal of Marketing Research, researchers identified particular kinds of consumers whose preferences can predict products that will flop, calling those folks “harbingers of failure,” reports the Chicago Tribune.

“Certain customers systematically purchase new products that prove unsuccessful,” wrote the study authors. “Their early adoption of a new product is a strong signal that a product will fail.”

Researchers looked at retail purchases made by about 130,000 consumers at a national convenience store chain, and found that 13% of them had buying habits that predicted failure of a new product. Failure in this case means surviving less than three years. About half or more of the products they bought were doomed to die before they had a chance to make it big.

This means if you’re the kind of person who liked the Zune, you probably also liked Frito Lay Lemonade, which apparently was a thing.

And “the more they buy, the less likely the product will succeed,” the researchers wrote.

This is because harbingers of failure are more likely to consistently buy things that other customers won’t, for whatever reason. Maybe they like to be different, or maybe they just have a soft spot for the things no one else likes.

For companies, this means that they’d need to be careful not to just focus on how many people are buying a new product, but who it is that’s doing the buying. If you’ve got a boatload of these harbingers of failure on board, your ship is sure to sink.

There’s a reason all your favorite products are always being discontinued [Chicago Tribune]

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  1. mongo says:

    Wait, wait, wait Captain Obvious!

    DO YOU MEAN TO SAY that people that buy new stuff are likely to be the ones that can no longer buy the new stuff because new stuff they buy often fails to last on the market?

    Coincidentally, the new stuff that nobody buys ALSO often fails to last on the market.

  2. StevenB says:

    Well, I remember reading some stuff about Crystal Pepsi. When Pepsi first began with it, they launched it in certain markets and each of those markets it did well. However, when it went national or mainstream, it didn’t do so well. I guess they were confused as to what the issue was and ended up pulling it. I remember having it in high school. I liked it. I was hoping they would bring it back even if for a limited time.