failed product

Failed Product: 21 Most Popular Failures

Khyati Hooda
By Khyati Hooda 10 Min Read

Launching a new product is not always easy, even for a well-known brand. Occasionally consumers are not ready for the product, and other times they do not find any value in it. And when that happens, even a huge marketing budget can not get people to buy the failed product.

From the rebranding and product extension failures, we have compiled a few failed products notorious for being so unsuccessful that they could even bankrupt a company. 

Some of these ideas may even make you wonder, “Why did companies make these products in the first place?”

1. Kitchen Entrees, Colgate, 1982

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In 1982, Colgate had the strangest idea for a brand extension. The company decided to sell frozen dinners, but that plan backfired because consumers could not help but think that toothpaste stunk and tasted like their dinner. No company launches a product that it believes will cut into sales of its other products, but it should have known what would happen because toothpaste sales plummeted after the frozen meals line was introduced and was a failed product.

2. Office Assistant Clippy, Microsoft, 1990s

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Clippy is considered one of the worst user interfaces developed and a failed product from Microsoft. Clippy was supposed to pop up whenever the software felt a user needed help, and managed to piss off some people. After Microsoft realized the unpopularity of Clippy, they decided to remove it altogether.

3. Ez Squirt Ketchup, Heinz, 2006

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In 2000, Heinz came up with the idea of drawing children’s attention to different colored ketchup: Ez Squirt. This colorful condiment came in turquoise, green and purple. After six years on the market, it was discontinued.

4. Bic For Her, 2012

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Device manufacturer Bic launched a product for women called “Lady Pens” in 2012. These pointless gender-specific pens were ridiculed and found no takers; no wonder it was a failed product.

5. Frito-Lay Wow! Chips, 1998

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The idea of fat-free chips was a brilliant marketing ploy by Frito-Lay in 1998. People were excited at the thought that this “miracle food” would solve their weight problems, and it was not long before sales reached $400 million. But soon people began complaining of abdominal cramps, loose stools, and other side effects of this new fat substitute called Olestra- and when these complaints became too loud to ignore, Frito Lay had no choice but to stop production for good.

6. Google +, 2011

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Google launched its new social network, Google+, in 2011. It never came close to the success of Facebook, leading many people to believe it was a failed product and a major disappointment.

7. Trump Steaks, Donald Trump, 2007

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In 2007, Donald Trump launched his “world’s best” line of premium steaks. Consumers disagreed with the description and sales of this product were quickly discontinued.

8. Jimmy Dean chocolate chip sausage in a pancake coating, 2006

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In 2016, Jimmy Dean introduced an odd combination to its line: Chunks of sausage wrapped in chocolate pancakes on a stick. When they said “it might be crazy enough to work,” they did not mean this product.

9. Crystal Pepsi, 1992

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Pepsi launched a new product named “Crystal Pepsi” in 1992; however, it was phased out a year later. David C. Novak, the man who is credited with inventing Crystal Pepsi, said that he should have made sure “the product tasted good.”

10. Cheetos Lip Balm, Cheetos, 2005

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Someone at Frito-Lay decided that launching a Cheetos-flavored lip balm would be a fantastic idea in 2005. We understand why this idea is on the list of failed product, even though we have never done anything like it before.

11. Twitter Peek, 2009

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TwitterPeek was the first and last Twitter-only mobile device dedicated exclusively to Twitter. The product failed because of its 20-character preview of what it does: send and receive tweets. It was no surprise that consumers declined to purchase this device after seeing how limited it was in its use.

12. Thirsty Cat! And Thirsty Dog!, 1994

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Bottled water for cats and dogs was launched in 1994. It contained carbon dioxide, vitamins, and flavorings. Consumers did not well receive the product, who noted that it was completely unnecessary to give their pets what amounted to a cola-flavored soda.

13. Samsung Galaxy Note 7, 2016

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The Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was a phone that became popular in 2017 for all the wrong reasons. The devices were recalled before they were even released due to complaints of overheating and exploding batteries.

14. Pepsi Blue, 2002

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Pepsi Blue was Pepsi’s unsuccessful attempt to compete with Vanilla Coke. Although heavily promoted, the drink flopped due to its berry-like flavor, which consumers found too sweet and more reminiscent of cotton candy than berries.

15. Juicero, 2017

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In 2013, Juicero introduced a juicer called Juicero Press. This device was sold with packages of pre-juiced fruits and vegetables sourced exclusively from the company. Consumers quickly discovered that these packets could be pressed just as efficiently by hand as with the $400 machine. Eventually, they had to stop selling the product and buy it back from customers who had already purchased it.

16. Google Glass, 2013-2014

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Google Glass, launched in 2013, was a very failed product in the concept of smart glasses. The device cost $1,500 at its release and did not perform any of its intended functions well. These high-tech glasses also reportedly raised serious security and privacy concerns.

17. New Coke, Coca-Cola Co, 1985

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The Coca-Cola Co. decided to reformulate Coke in 1985 and invested $4 million in a nationwide taste test. Although New Coke did well in the taste tests, people’s reactions after its release were extremely negative and it had to be renamed Coca-Cola Classic within three months of its release.

18. Cocaine, Redux Beverages 2007

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This energy drink was pulled from shelves in the U.S. because of its suggestive name. The FDA disagreed with Cocaine’s marketing, which touted the drink as an alternative to street drugs and as a dietary supplement. In Europe, the drink continues to be sold under its original name.

19. Cosmopolitan Yogurt, 1999

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The Cosmopolitan magazine had a brief experience in food. They had an idea for Cosmopolitan yogurt, but it did not appeal to their target audience. After only 18 months of production, they stopped production and moved on.

20. Amazon’s Fire Phone, 2014

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Amazon entered the smartphone market in 2014 with the Fire Phone. It was discontinued after one year because the marketing strategies were not successful enough.

21. Nokia N-Gage, Nokia, 2003

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In 2003, when smartphones did not exist and games were only played on cell phones (Nokia), the company attempted to combine the two. Unfortunately, it was a total failure, as they combined too many things into one device. The Nokia N-gage was not a success, only 1/3 of the 6 million devices sold.

Conclusion

The above-failed product proves that the quality of the product makes it successful. However, it does not guarantee that it will be successful as it helps in the first round of sales or attracts customers. A product undergoes numerous changes before its debut, and in the case of large corporations, marketing is also carried out on a large scale.  

You might be interested in The 20 Best Shark Tank Products of All-Time

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Posted by Khyati Hooda
Khyati is an entrepreneur, marketing consultant and growth hacker. She helps sustainable revenue growth through marketing for SaaS and subscription companies. Her expertise lies in building scalable customer acquisition strategies and implementing effective digital marketing campaigns that drive high-quality, low-cost leads for startups. Khyati has managed over $50M in marketing budgets across various industries including technology, finance, education, retail, consumer goods and more - successfully delivering over 15x ROI for her clients.
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