What causes a flop?


Share on LinkedIn

Imagine your company just developed an amazing new product. You invested in loads of market research and tweaked it to perfection only to watch it flop upon launch. It has happened, and it can happen to you.

As Columbia Business School professor Rita McGrath points out in her Harvard Business Review article “Anatomy of a Failed Launch,” this is exactly what happened to Michelin when it launched its new run-flat PAX tire. But while the article talks about the tire’s physical attributes, it fails to address the emotional ones, which we already know account for more than half the typical customer experience.

Such “new-product-launch heartbreak” is especially disappointing when your product is as innovative and seemingly perfect as the PAX: if damaged it would function at high speed for at least a hundred miles. Honda issued the tires on its new minivans and Michelin obviously tooted their own horn, loudly.

Then the problems set in: cars had to be redesigned, the economy dived, mechanics did not have the tools to change the tires, and they cost more. The result was that “failing to see the product through the lens of the customers’ total experience, Michelin’s hoped-for killer competitive advantage limped along” until it was discontinued in 2008.

The product failed because it did not take into account the customers’ total experience, which includes both rational and emotional elements. It’s possible that addressing the total experience could have saved the PAX line.

It may not be rational to pay twice as much for a tire, but that is often expected with new technologies. Emotional factors, including how such a tire could prevent injury or death when changing a tire on the side of a busy highway or experiencing a blowout, can easily persuade customers that the price is a worthy investment.

But the Michelin PAX isn’t without its value. Looking back, it serves as a good example of how important the entire customer experience is to a successful product launch and thriving existence.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Colin Shaw
Colin is an original pioneer of Customer Experience. LinkedIn has recognized Colin as one of the ‘World's Top 150 Business Influencers’ Colin is an official LinkedIn "Top Voice", with over 280,000 followers & 80,000 subscribed to his newsletter 'Why Customers Buy'. Colin's consulting company Beyond Philosophy, was recognized by the Financial Times as ‘one of the leading consultancies’. Colin is the co-host of the highly successful Intuitive Customer podcast, which is rated in the top 2% of podcasts.


Please use comments to add value to the discussion. Maximum one link to an educational blog post or article. We will NOT PUBLISH brief comments like "good post," comments that mainly promote links, or comments with links to companies, products, or services.

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here