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After years of planning and rigorous testing, you’ve perfected your product or service and delivered a shiny new offering to the marketplace. You expected your customers to line up…to swarm for this latest innovation, but instead you were met with crickets.

According to Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen, 95% of the 30,000 products that are launched each year fail. That’s only 1,500 surviving new product launches.

So what is it that goes so wrong with new product launches?

  • Does my product not live up to standards?
  • Is it not in line with customers’ needs?

First, let’s take a little refresher on what drives customers to buy and then we’ll dive into what might be breaking your sales funnel now.

Why do customers buy products?

Whether your product or service is B2C or B2B, there are a few key factors that drive your potential customers to make purchases. Here are seven things to consider as you are eyeing up your next service or product launch.

  1. Necessity: This is the very basis or reason why many products are launched…an unmet need in the marketplace. What pain or loss are people trying to avoid, or what pleasure are they missing out on? This is the framework for your product. Don’t lose sight of it as you are innovating, concepting, designing and selling your product or service to retailers.
  2. Convenience: How easy something is to use, or how easy it makes their life, is another driving factor for making purchases. Don’t discount how simplified packaging—or packaging up your current product in a more convenient package, such as single-serve, on-the-go options—can make all the difference.
  3. If the price is right: Price isn’t the only factor in purchases, but it is a key consideration in the decision-making process. Often a need or want is identified and the final decision between a few options is made based on price.
  4. Security and protection: Dust off that old psychology book because feeling safe (second only to physiological needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) is the second driving factor when it comes to human decision making. This includes personal security, employment, resources, health and property.
  5. Finding joy: Purchases for entertainment or pure happiness motivates shoppers to the tune of $276 in impulse purchases each month, according to a May 2021 Slickdeals report.
  6. Fear of missing out: Also known as FOMO, the fear of missing out drives people to make purchases to get key benefits, such as an exclusive deal or extra rewards, as well as to not feel left out when others have the latest and greatest phone, car, clothes, etc.
  7. Identity/belonging/values: Trying to improve is a big reason people make purchases. Consumers are either trying to conceal weaknesses to fit in or feel like they belong, or they are working to better themselves. Consumers also make purchases that align with their values or beliefs.

Why is no one buying your product? 

Now that we’ve reviewed why people buy things in the first place, let’s take some time to identify why people aren’t buying your product. They are still making purchases and taking care of their needs and wants, so why isn’t yours making the cut? Here are a few top reasons:

  1. It’s not a product or service people want/value. While that may be a tough pill to swallow after years and countless hours of product design and development, sometimes the reason for a lack of sales is that it’s not something people need or want. Take a look back at your research and see if there are any comments that stand out when people were introduced to your product.
  2. Your product isn’t that great. Let’s say it is a product that people need and want, but it falls short of expectations. Whether consumers aren’t using it quite as you expected or your product is under performing, the response is clear in the lack of sales.
  3. They don’t know what it does. If you’ve checked the “need” and “quality” boxes, maybe it’s a lack of understanding of what it does. Make sure your consumers know the benefits, using images of people using your product to help hit home your messaging.
  4. They don’t see how it’s different. As people are perusing online while shopping or at a retailer for something they need or want, they may skip right over yours if you haven’t clearly articulated your unique selling proposition (USP). It’s “better because” or it does this “and also” statements can help show how your product isn’t a “me-too” product.
  5. You’re not targeting the right people. If you’re selling bifocals, but the only people who have seen your ads are under the age of 10, you’re definitely missing out on your target audience. When it comes to launching a new product or service, create buyer personas and create specific messaging for that audience. Your features will stay the same, but how you tease out the benefits will be determined by the needs of each buyer persona. With advanced targeting in digital ads, buyers expect products that align with their needs and values and reward the brands that speak directly to them with their purchases.
  6. Too much competition in the marketplace. Sometimes you have all the above boxes checked, but others beat you to the punch and have stolen all of the market share for that particular product. Without a strong differentiation or major product improvement compared to others on the market, it can be hard to get the sales you need to keep the product on shelves.
  7. No customer trust. If you are a new brand or launching in a space that is new to your brand, be sure to lay the groundwork with plenty of communication and marketing before your launch, giving your audience plenty of reasons to believe that they can trust your product.
  8. Not ready to buy. Sometimes the simple answer is your sales are down because your target audience is not ready to buy. This could be due to seasonal factors driving sales or even the economy, or perhaps be that you are early to the market even for early adopters.

How to increase sales without reinventing your product

Many of the reasons consumers aren’t buying your products or services can be boiled down to messaging, which is good news! While you may need to invest in new packaging and advertising, you may not need to abandon your product entirely. Here are a few ways to optimize your product launch and increase sales.

  1. Narrow in on your target audience

Knowing your target audience better can help you adjust messaging, as well as product variations (sizes, quantity, packaging, etc.). Dig deeper as you look at your target audience and identify sub-messaging for each buyer persona.

Be sure to also adjust your pitch to various retailers to be as specific as possible to their target audience. Do your research to see what else they are currently carrying to show how yours is different and how you can boost their revenue with sales of your product. Don’t forget to show the math behind how you determined a price point for each retailer’s target consumer base so they can trust you’ve done the legwork and understand who their buyers are.

2. Revisiting messaging

It is fairly common for CPGs to focus on key features of the product and downplay the benefits, meaning they don’t adequately answer, “what’s in it for me?” or what’s referred to as WIIFM.

3. Refining your USP

After you’ve gotten to the heart of “what’s in it for me,” it’s time to convince your consumers to pick yours over other options on the marketplace. Here’s where your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, comes into play. To differentiate yourself from the competition, find a feature, attribute or claim that is unique to you and run with communicating it.

4. Build trust with customers

Making claims and promising benefits is an absolute must in communicating a new product, but without an RTB, or reason to believe, your benefits and claims are simply empty promises to your target audience and lacking the depth needed to sufficiently sell your new idea.

Fix your messaging to get your product/service sales back on track

All hope is not lost—take the steps above before abandoning your product or service, and we can help!

Person counting money in their hands