Businesses always seem to be aiming for the next benchmark to get their brand out there and bring more revenue in. However, it can sometimes backfire in a big way. Not all brands can develop a new product that will become an instant hit. In fact, there are many examples of such brands, especially famous ones, taking on a task that is much too large that it could even spoil the brand’s name.
Here are a few examples:
– ‘Bic’, famous for its disposable pens opted to design disposable underwear or ‘pantyhose’. Having already introduced disposable cigarette lighters and razors, it believed that it could extend the ‘disposable’ characteristic towards an unrelated product. Despite this, customers could not see the link. One issue was that Bic used the same store outlets where their pens were sold for the pantyhose. Al Ries, a marketing writer points out the failure being because ‘Names have power, but only in the camp in which they have credentials’.
– Kodak was once synonymous with taking pictures having been around since 1888. However, it did not act upon the innovations of digital photography despite having overseen its invention. In 1975, Steve Sasson a Kodak engineer invented the first digital camera but despite having foreseen its overtaking of traditional film cameras, Kodak chose to ignore it. In this case, they chose to stick to their core businesses in film and traditional technologies and chose to see digital photography as ‘the enemy, an evil juggernaut’ as CEO George Fisher described in the 1990s. Although still running, Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 highlighting its extensive fall from grace.
– In 1985, Coca Cola stopped making its most popular soft drink in favour of ‘New Coke’ in response to Pepsi’s rising popularity. Pepsi had been making significant gains in the market especially with its targeting of youth and this was a significant cause for concern for Coca-Cola executives. It raised the stakes further by introducing a blind taste test between the two rivals. To the horror of Coca-Cola’s president Robert Woodruff, most preferred Pepsi’s sweeter formula. The impact was such that Classic Coke was replaced by New Coke, after blind taste tests confirmed consumer preference for it over Classic Coke and Pepsi. What they underestimated was the power of the brand and several boycotts led it to reintroduced Classic Coke. Despite all the market research, they admitted that they could not measure the deep and emotional attachment felt by so many people. Therefore, it learnt that taste was not the only factor in marketing but the product and brand were included too.