Product and Brand Failures phenomenon



The phenomenon of product and brand failures in the business world is not new. Some brands as well as products burn up more rapidly than others(Adrian, 2005). A number of them turn and twist gradually in the breeze, up to the time the market forces their demise(Hartley, 2002). However, there some more recent symbols of the phenomenon from Daily Finances’ Top 25 Biggest Flops of All Time are reviewed in this paper.

Table of Contents

Abstract 2

Introduction. 4

Smith and Wesson Mountain Bikes. 5

Cosmopolitan Yoghurt 5

LifeSavers Soda. 5

Ben-Gay Aspirin. 6

Colgate Kitchen Entrees. 6

Frito-Lay Lemonade. 6

Bic Underwear 7

Harley Davidson Perfume. 7

Clairol’s ‘Touch of Yoghurt’ Shampoo. 7

Cocaine Energy Drink. 8

Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water 8

Maxwell House Ready-To-Drink-Brewed Coffee. 8

New Coke. 8

RJ Reynolds Smokeless cigarette. 8

McDonald’s Arch Deluxe. 9

Bottled Water for Pets- Thirsty Cats, Thirsty Dogs. 9

Kellogg’s Breakfast Mates. 9

Microsoft Web TV.. 9

Apple Newton. 10

Sony Betamax. 10

Earring Magic Ken. 10

The Ford Edsel 10

DeLorean Car 11

References. 11





The phenomenon of product and brand failures in the business world is not new.Some brands as well as products burn up more rapidly than others. A number ofthem turn and twist gradually in the breeze, up to the time the market forces their demise(Aaker, 2000). At times there it is difficult to provide reasons for the collapse of a brand or product. In my opinion, the fundamental question prior to manufacturing a product would be whether the brand is properly aligned with the prevailing expectations, perceptions, attributions, and preferences of the consumers(Murphy, 2004). This paper provides 25 examples of brands and products that failed in the market.

Smith and Wesson Mountain Bikes

Who is Smith and Wesson? The most likely reaction would be that Smith and Wesson brand represents a prominent gun manufacturer. In 1997, gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson decided to take advantage of this extensive reverence by launching an assortment of Smith and Wesson mountain bikes (Bayraktar, 2007). In my opinion, the strong, well built bikes failed in the market since the broader market could not find the correlation between firearms and bikes. The company failed to appreciate the fundamental canon of brand extension. The rule stipulates that there must be a correlation between the new brand and its parent brand.

Cosmopolitan Yoghurt

Cosmopolitan is the world’s leading women’s magazine. However, it brand supremacy in the market did not persuade yogurt consumers into embracing Cosmopolitan yogurt. This brand extension was a failure in approximately 18 months. In my opinion, the readers of Cosmopolitan magazine failed to appreciate the link between the magazine and yogurt. The fundamental link between the new brand and the parent brand was lost in this case, hence the outright failure of cosmopolitan yogurt. Why would a company that is not known in the food industry sell food to them? Maybe that was the core question in the consumers’ mind. Cosmopolitan was synonymous with journalism but not food production, or food science. This brings in the issue of consumer perceptions and attributions.

LifeSavers Soda

Lifesaver was invented in 1912, as one of the preferred brands of candy. In its candy production, the firm manufactures approximately 3 million candy rolls daily. Its success in the candy manufacturing industry is evident in the popularity associated with LifeSavers candy. In contrast to this success in candy manufacture, LifeSavers failed in its brand extension of LifeSavers Soda. LifeSavers Soda was a fizzy drink that performed well in its taste tests. However, it failed to measure up to the manufactures expectation when it failed to create its mark in the market. In my opinion consumer must have associated the fizzy drink with liquefied candy. The thought of drinking liquid sweets must have generated a foul perception in the minds of consumers. This perception must have contributed to its failure, regardless of the success of its sister brands.

Ben-Gay Aspirin

Ben-Gay is a renown US brand. Consumers associate the brand with an analgesic cream that is used for the relief of muscle aches, trifling arthritic pain, as well as back pain. Although Ben-Gay Aspirin could still be related with pain relief, and utilize the already established distribution network, it failed in the market. In my opinion, even if Ben-Gay Aspirin was connected with pain relief, the consumers must have also linked it with the fiery cream. Thinking of the sensation of the fiery cream, nobody would have thought of swallowing a product from Ben-Gay. The perception that Ben-Gay Aspirin would be equally fiery as its sister brands was the genesis of its failure.

Colgate Kitchen Entrees

Most people associate Colgate to toothpaste. When Colgate launched Colgate’s kitchen entrees, the company had banked on the success of its brand, Colgate toothpaste. The link between toothpaste and food products only comes in after a meal. In my opinion, the thought of eating Colgate food must have been appalling in the consumers’ perceptions. This may be regarded as on of the most bizarre accidents in brand extension history. Colgate’s kitchen entree as a brand was an outright failure, not to mention the consequent loss in sales in regard to Colgate toothpaste.This is a case whereby brand schizophrenia devalued the core brand.

Frito-Lay Lemonade

After eating a salty snack, consumers usually require a thirst-quenching soft drink. In my opinion, this is what the manufactures of Frito-Lay Lemonade did not understand. Frito-Lay is leading salty snacks brand, but its brand extension to Lemonade was a bid commercial flaw.From the perspective of the consumers’, the sweet, fruity drink had diminutivecorrelation to other products manufactured by Frito-lay.

Bic Underwear

Anybody who may have used a pen would associate Bic with pens. However, Bic has other brand extensions that embrace lighters and razors. The launch of Bic underwear was absurd. The company must have projected enormous success in its launch of the underwear bearing in mind that the company is a success story in the pen, lighters and razorsector. In my opinion, consumers failed to see any correlation between underwear and the familiar Bic products.Production as well as distribution problems, coalesced with the fact that underwear’s function is completelydissimilarfrom that of pens, lighters and razors, meant that the underwear was destined to fail.

Harley Davidson Perfume

The Harley Davidson perfume was destined to fail since its brand name was detached from the successful powerful image of the Harley Davidson parent brand. The brand name Harley Davidson creates a powerful image, deeply engrained inAmerican psyche. In my opinion Harley Davidson brand is probably the brand with more mythology linked to it in comparison to any other. The thought of some sweet fragrance emanating from a Harley Davidson biker is unimaginable by all standards.

Clairol’s ‘Touch of Yoghurt’ Shampoo

Would you wash your hair with yogurt? That must have been the fundamental question that the manufactures of Clairol’s Touch of Yogurt shampoo should have considered in 1979. In my opinion, consumers simply did not like the notion of spreading stout pallid yogurt on their hair. Maybe, Clairol’s Touch of Yogurt shampoo, with a different brand name would have performed better in the market. However, the product was an instantaneous failure in the market.

Cocaine Energy Drink

The Cocaine Energy Drink brand name was the biggest mistake that the manufactures did.  In my opinion, the energy drink would have performed differently had it been given a different Brand name. It hit the market as an alternative to an illegal street drug, and alleged that certain ingredients therein were intended to avert, cure or treat disease conditions. The product faced a hard time trying to delink itself from the illegal drug.

Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water

Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water was a product of the beer brewing firm, Coors. The company launched its brand extension, Coors Rocky Mountain Spring Water, but the consumers failed to appreciate the product. In my opinion, consumers failed to see why a beer company would market bottled water, whereas others could not be convinced that the bottled water did not contain alcohol.

Maxwell House Ready-To-Drink-Brewed Coffee

Maxwell House ready-to-drink coffee was launched by General Foods 1990. The product was intended for the vast market of coffee drinkers. However, the only problem was the new product could not be heated ion a microwave in its usual container. In my opinion, the major incentive to purchase ready-to-drink coffee is convenience, and that is what this product took away. Coffee drinkers would not go for cold coffee, andtherefore, the product had to fail.

New Coke

New coke tried to take away a product that consumers had identified with for generations. In my opinion, this product should not have entered the market in the first place. It represents the world’s most incomparable failure. Its failure was instantaneous, and it represents a case of outright rejection.

RJ Reynolds Smokeless cigarette

RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company is renowned worldwide for its cigarette brands. However, in the case of the smokeless cigarette, the consumers were apprehensive as a result of anecdotes to the effect that the cigarette could be utilized as a delivery tool for crack cocaine. In my opinion, the negative publicity, consumer perception, and resultant attributions led to the failure of this product. Therefore, the product faced speedy demise.

McDonald’s Arch Deluxe

McDonald’s Arch was intended for more adult consumer in reaction to the demographic trends of an increasing older market, and longer lifespan. McDonald’s intended to produce a new brand of burgers with more stylish ingredients instead of compromising its traditional brands. In my opinion, although the brand was launched amid highly expensive marketing campaigns, the customers were simply turned off. I attribute this to the unconventional ads, high price, and higher content of calories. This brand faded off gradually from the market. This is another case of brand extension that failed.

Bottled Water for Pets- Thirsty Cats, Thirsty Dogs

Original Pet Drink Company launched Thirsty Dog and Thirsty Cat, bottled water for pets in 1994, the. The vitamin-enriched, carbonated beverage had two flavors. These were Tangy Fish for cats and Crispy Beef for the dogs. In my opinion, the products failed due to the fact that, customers did not find flavored bottled water appropriate for their pets. This is a case of outright rejection of a product.

Kellogg’s Breakfast Mates

Kellogg’s Breakfast Mates was intended for children as quick and easy way to eat their cereal. In my opinion, the idea was innovative, but the company failed to realize that consumers love their milk warm when consuming their cereal. I think the company spent time on developing the unrefrigerated warm milk, but failed to realize that consumers did not want it.

Microsoft Web TV

WebTV provided consumers with Internet connection through their TV sets in the 1990s. This service grew speedily initially as it attracted mainstream users that characteristically were apprehensive of technology. To the majority of consumers, this service was important in order to use the internet on the TV. In my opinion, the product simply failed to generate reasonable revenue to Microsoft and therefore, it was scrapped. This product failed since the market was not entirely ready for its functionalities.

Apple Newton

Apple Newton was launched in 1993 at a time that Apple anticipated that the market was ready for innovative technology. The product was officially referred to as the MessagePad, though it was popularly referred to as Newton. In my opinion, this product failed because it was overpriced at $700 to $1000, and technically faulty. This product came before its time, and no wonder it formed the launching pad for the contemporary PDAs, MacBook Pros, iPhones, and iPods.

Sony Betamax

The Sony Betamax was launched in 1975. It faced stiff competition from JVC’s VHS, which prevailed in the market. However, in my opinion, since the Sony Betamax was superior in technical superiority, there must have been other reasons as to why the JVC’s VHS prevailed over it. There were some licensing issues that impeded the growth of Betamax and facilitated VHS to establish itself in the market. The tapes from Betamax lasted for one hour and therefore, inadequate for recording movies, while the VHS tapes lasted for three hours.

Earring Magic Ken

Earring Magic Ken was initially a celebrated doll. However, negative publicity from, The New York Times, People magazine, CNN, and talk-show hosts created its early demise. In my opinion, the doll faced controversy because of its unconventional ideal of masculinity.

The Ford Edsel

The Ford Motor Company is respected worldwide in the automobile industry. However, the company made a historical flaw in launching the Ford Edsel. There were huge publicity campaigns in preparation for the launch of Ford Edsel. Car showrooms were packed with interested visitors.  In the initial week of the launch, approximately three million visitors visited the Edsel showrooms. However, in my opinion, in the perceptions of the public, Ford Edsel simply failed to meet their expectations.

DeLorean Car

The DeLorean DMC-12 was expected to be ahead of its time. It featured in several movies. However, it failed to impress the automobile market. In my opinion, regardless of the enormous financing of approximately $200 million, the DeLorean car failed as a result of absence of consumer interest, expensive production, and hostile exchange rates.








Adrian, G. (2005). Advantage of Integrity: Creating Competitive Advantage Industry, Layton: Gibbs            Smith.

Aaker, G. (2000).Brand Personality Dimensions,MarketingResearch Journal, 34(2),347.

Bayraktar, D. (2007). Competitive Advantage in the Fashion Industry,” London: Macmillan.

Murphy, J. (2004). Brand Strategy. England: Prentice Hall Inc.

Hartley, R. (2002). Marketing Mistakes. London: Wiley



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