Chapter 4

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The Fine Line Between Success and Failure

The practice of product management may have its roots in Neil McElroy and bath soap at P&G, but that hasn’t prevented some of the highest-​profile companies from creating doomed consumer products.

You may remember some of these classic failures:

  • New Coke was designed to compete with the sweeter-​tasting Pepsi, but sparked such an outcry from loyal customers that it was promptly withdrawn and replaced by the original recipe.
  • The Sony Betamax lost the feature war to VHS because it couldn’t fit a movie on a single tape.
  • The Ford Edsel couldn’t live up to Ford’s sustained prelaunch hype, had a name that sounded like “pretzel,” and looked just plain weird.1

  1. “Weird” is an understatement. Some customers thought the front grille looked like a “vagina with teeth,” according to Matt Haig’s book Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time, p. 21. See the Further Reading section.

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You’re reading an extract from
The Practitioner’s Guide to Product Management
by Jock Busuttil