Success, Failure and Nuance

Sunday, 17 May 2015 17:05
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Have you ever been discouraged to pursue your new idea because someone dismissed it as having already been tried? How true is their statement, really? Curious to learn more? Read on, dear friends...

Success, Failure and Nuance

Have you ever enthusiastically shared your big idea with a co-worker only for them to curtly dismiss it with, "We've tried that already"? If this has happened to you, I hope you won't simply drop your idea without first digging into the details and judging for yourself. In new product development, nuance can sometimes make all the difference between success or failure.

What do I mean by this? Consider the successful Mio water flavorant. Wouldn't it have been easy for Kraft personnel to have dismissed this as "liquid Pixie sticks" when it was a fledgling idea instead of as a personal custom flavoring system? The (big) difference for Mio lay in recognizing that consumers desired control in their flavoring choices. Kraft capitalized on this insight and created a $200M+ new category.

Who amongst us hasn't at some time performed "the sniff test" on a lightly worn shirt or pair of slacks to decide its wear worthiness? P&G recognized that some consumers want to rewear certain items of clothing before laundering them, as they aren't truly dirty. P&G sought to capitalize on this insight some years ago with its Downy Wrinkle Releaser product, and also with Febreze. It is now seeking to leverage it further with its new Swash at-home laundry freshening system. While it is still too soon to decide if this latter product will be a market success, I give P&G credit for recognizing that their consumer insight remains fundamentally potent and worthy of pursuing as a new business opportunity.

My point is that in new product development in particular, success and failure can be decided by relatively small differences in positioning, in the product, or both. Just because a similar idea may not have previously worked or may have underachieved, doesn't mean by itself that yours isn't worthy of development. If the consumer insights that support the idea remain strong and you can successfully troubleshoot the conceptual and or executional obstacles that previously held it back, you could very well have a real winner on your hands. Is this work easy? No, especially when faced with risk averse individuals who don't want to revisit concepts that may have negative political baggage attached to them. It may still be the right thing to do, and rewarding, too.

Since 2005, BFS Innovations has helped its Fortune 500 clients with technology scouting, new business creation and development services. Contact Michael today at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or at
614 937-2408 to discuss your company's needs.


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