Harbingers of Failure

Source: MIT Published: December 2015

Source: MIT
Published: December 2015

Harbingers of Failure

Circulated: April 20, 2020

Diet Crystal Pepsi. Frito Lay Lemonade. Watermelon-flavored Oreos. Fire Phone.

Through the years, the shelves of stores have been filled with products that turned out to be flops, failures, duds, and losers.

Researchers identified a group of customers whose support for a product is a harbinger of failure, a signal that the product will eventually flop. The more the harbingers of failure like the product, the worse the effect is. If they buy a product repeatedly, it’s even more likely to fail! And the logical opposite holds true: if harbingers of failure avoid a product, it does pretty well.

A particular group of customers was associated with a lot of failed products. If something appeals to them, it’s unlikely that it will appeal to the mainstream.