I recently found some interesting research on why products fail, carried out by Stanford University by Modesto A. Maidique Billie Jo Zirger and reported as “Towards an Evolutionary Model of the Product Development Process”. The study investigated 224 product innovations at 100 electronics companies with sales averaging $20M and interviewed managers involved in the process to get their ideas on why the innovation failed.
The key conclusion for me was that all causes of failure are amenable to improved management practices. The usual external excuses – the economy, globalisation – are not cited as the reason the products failed. 16% cited marketing as the cause of failure, 13% said that there was too small a benefit/cost ratio for the customer and 7% cited the difficulty of market development.