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Source: Journal of Marketing Research
Published: September 2019

But Who Are Harbinger Customers?

Circulated: April 21, 2020

Yesterday’s fact focused on a 2015 study that identified harbinger customers who systematically purchase new products that fail (and are discontinued by retailers). Over 400 Amazonians left feedback at the bottom of the email, of which my favorite is: “but who are these customers and how do we separate their survey results?!”

Research conducted last year extends our understanding:

First, the findings document the existence of harbinger zip codes. If households in these zip codes adopt a new product, this is a signal that the new product will fail.

Secondly, the researchers found that there are harbinger voters. If these individuals support a candidate, they are more likely to lose their election.

The study does not describe how to identify harbinger customers for your product or service, though this is the subject of ongoing research.

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