Why do fewer than 25% of new product launches succeed?

14 Nov 2017

It’s an established fact that 75-80% of new product launches fail


Based on Nielsen’s data, 99% fail deliver more than €10m sales in year one!


Yet NPD is still a critical component for any company seeking to deliver growth.


According to McKinsey, the most successful 25% of businesses deliver 36% of revenue and 31% of product from new products.


So, launching truly successful new products is more important than ever.  But how?


Nielsen helpfully suggest four tactics:


  • Choice: make the right choice of innovation to pursue by walking in the shoes of the consumer to gather demand-driven insights
  • Process: have the right processes to shape your chosen innovation ideas into a market-ready offer with relevance, differentiation and superiority
  • Marketing: get the activation strategy right and deliver compelling creative marketing that is original and tells the story of the innovation
  • Togetherness: get everyone right behind you from the top of the organisation to the bottom


Whilst we would concur that all the above make total sense, there has to be more to it, because in all our years of delivering successful innovation, we’ve never met a client that doesn’t seek to do these things!


So obviously something else must be wrong!


We would strongly suggest that it is seldom the big things that cause a relevant and well-conceived NPD initiative to fail, but the little bits of alignment, refinement and optimisation.


Let’s make the assumption that you’ve already got actionable, demand-driven insights, relevant ideas, creative concepts and a committed team (but if you haven’t, just give us a call because we can help you deliver all those things faster than you’d believe possible!).


What we are going to suggest is that you STOP racing towards launch – and invest just a little time and budget to CHALLENGE yourself and make 100% sure that you’ve the best possible solution and every element of your marketing ‘mix’ is in 100% alignment.

Why challenge yourself at the 11th hour?

Simply because we’ve seen more NPD launches fail because one small element wasn’t optimised and hadn’t been challenged – than for any other reason.


Why is this?  Based on our experience, it’s because every team has a natural tendency to try to prove that there are no weaknesses with their planned execution in the interests of a fast launch, rather than adopting the more challenging approach that is more disruptive

  • Dodge failure: spot the weak elements of your ‘mix’ before they have a chance to ‘trip up’ your launch – and FIX them
  • Avoid under-performance: spot the sub-optimal elements of your ‘mix’ – and OPTIMISE them
  • Maximise success: identify the strong elements of your ‘mix’ and not just optimise them, but make sure they are working in perfect SYNERGY with all the other elements.

Because only when all the elements of your ‘mix’ are optimised AND working in perfect synergy, will you have maximised the probability that your new launch will end up as part of the 25% rather than the 75%!

But how are you going to do it?

Quant testing and conventional groups will simply flag weaknesses and expose where your ‘mix’ may fail.  They’ll seldom help you understand why, AND creatively help you work out how to fix it …


Crucible Co-Creators will!

Crucible Co-Creators encourage experimentation …

They’re a highly-creative consumer co-creation workshop format that quickly and cost-effectively challenges and optimises your ‘mix’ to maximise its probability of success.


Each Crucible programme tends to be 2-3 x 2.5/3hr creative co-creation sessions per market.


In each co-creator session our agency Catalysts and your team work together face-to-face with Super-Consumers of above average intelligence, creativity and communication ability.


The team don’t just evaluate your planned ‘mix’, but collaboratively work to:


  1. Validate: digging deep into consumers’ motivations  to make sure your working insights are maximising relevance and motivation to change behaviour
  2. Evaluate: using super-consumers to assess each element of your current working plan – not just looking for weaknesses, but also considering potential enhancements
  3. Deconstruct: client, agency + super-consumer teams break-down your current working plan and then reconstruct the components to optimise it for themselves
  4. Stretch: creatively challenging super-consumers to go beyond current-thinking and share their own ultimate solutions
  5. Optimise: post-co-creator working sessions with client + agency catalysts to fix flaws, optimise elements AND maximise synergy between the elements


It probably doesn’t sound possible, but even a complex multi-market Crucible programme, that has potential to move your NPD initiative from the failing 75% to the succeeding 25%, can be delivered within just a few weeks!

Why should you challenge your ‘mix’?

When budget is scarce and time is short, why would you risk challenging yourself?


Well, the simple answer is that if you don’t, you might just be launching with a sub-optimal mix and significantly increasing your risk of joining the 75% of failures –  whereas by making small timely optimisations, you could massively increase your probability of being amongst the 25% of winners!


Crucible Co-Creators are a quick, cost effective way of harnessing the power of consultants, your team and consumers to maximise the success probability of any NPD activation.


We’ve also used Crucibles to optimise NPD insights, consumer-benefits, product-claims, product-prototypes and communications with audiences as diverse as kids, parental-gatekeepers, new mums, over-fifties and bodybuilders!


If you are in the process of preparing for a new product or service proposition for launch, or even if you’re earlier in the innovation process and want to optimise your mix before kicking off serious R&D or Comms investments, get in touch with Joanna or David.


We’d be delighted to talk you through your options – and help you ensure your next new product launch is a huge success!

Written by  David Goudge