Museum of Failure

Don’t be afraid to fail. Sure, it’s scary to think about, but everyone fails at some point in life. The key is to accept it and learn from the failure. (And then of course, don’t fail the same way again!) In fact, we can learn a lot from failures, whether they are from market timing, quality, technology, or totally misjudging consumers’ tastes.

Failure is a constant risk in marketing. Estimates are that 90% of new products and businesses fail for various reasons. Even the big companies have failures, some small and some massive. Consider the following examples:

  • Heinz green ketchup
  • Apple Newton
  • Google Glass
  • Colgate frozen meals
  • Harley Davidson perfume and cologne
  • New Coke and Coke BlaK
  • Sony Betamax
  • Microsoft Zune

These products are part of the new Museum of Failure, now open in Helsingborg, Sweden. Defined as “deviation from expected, desired outcomes,” failure is more common that most companies would like. But, if the Apple Newton had not failed, we might not have today’s iPhone.

Marketing may be risky. But, it is also fun to beat the odds and win.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the reasons that new products fail (i.e., poor product differentiation, not satisfying customer needs, bad timing, poor quality, poor execution, etc.).
  2. Show video of Museum of Failure:
  3. Show Web site:

  1. Divide students into groups. Have each group list 10 products that have failed.
  2. From each team, select one failed product and have students determine the reasons it failed.
  3. Have each team think of current products that they believe will soon fail. Why will these fail?
  4. For fun, see if any of the products can be found on eBay:

Source:  CBS, other news sources


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