Do you remember Colgate Kitchen Entrees? How about the Zune? Or Crystal Pepsi?*


That’s probably because these products pretty much flopped before they flipped onto store shelves. That’s not to say they were completely terrible, but it’s pretty telling that the most traction any of these products has ever received has been as a marketing case study of “What Not To Do.” There are a lot of reasons why these products failed, but what it boils down to is a simple question: Did these companies know themselves and/or their products? At all?

“Just when you thought you’ve done all the research you can on your product, turn the data on its head and do some more.”

Probably not, otherwise they would have realized that toothpaste and dinner don’t go well together, iPods dominated the market from the millisecond they were released, and Pepsi should be cola-colored, period.

But before you start panicking that your product is destined to end up joining the bevy of non-hit wonders that make it to market, you can relieve some of the stress by asking yourself one question:

How well do you know your product?

And not know as in, “this is what’s in it, this is what it looks like, this is who it’s for.”

Rather, know as in you can actually picture it not just on a store shelf, but where, precisely it fits in a store’s planogram. You can see it not just in the hands of the consumer, but how the consumer will actually use it. You can see how the consumer will benefit from your product and absolutely love it, and conversely, you can see—and admit—exactly what the consumer won’t like about your product.

Intricately understanding your product is just one of the main elements a supplier must have to successfully bring a product to market. Just when you thought you’ve done all the research you can on your product, turn the data on its head and do some more. It’s downright impossible to know too much about your product, though supplier beware—don’t let all that data bog you down so much that analysis paralysis sets in and your product stalls.

The road from idea to consumer is a long one…and a curvy one…a straight one…a roundabout one. But if you know your product, you’ll know exactly which turns to take to get to your goal.

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*Truth: I do remember Crystal Pepsi, actually, and I will freely admit to conning my parents into buying it at our local grocery store back in the day. They didn’t make that mistake twice, I can tell you.

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