Have you ever seen a new product at a store that you knew from day one would never sell and was doomed to fail and wondered what the marketing people were thinking?
A couple from my BestBuy days:
Excercise equipment. Yes, back around 96-97 BBY decided to carry treadmills, excercise bikes, etc. They even had a section for it, in an electronics store.
I remember when they introduced it and thought “no way, no one’s coming here to buy a treadmill, this stuff will be gone by year end.” Sure enough, the idea flopped and we were soon getting rid of the crap for pennies on the dollar or sending it back.
Grateful Dead merchandise. Yep, BBY thought it would be profitable to become the exclusive seller of Grateful Dead crap. I just shook my head as they set up the displays. Everything from GD socks, GD baby bibs, to GD xmas ornaments. Sure enough, a few months later we couldn’t give the stuff away for 50-75 cents.
One from Circuit City:
DIVX. Was I the only one who thought this was the dumbest idea ever? You buy a player. You buy a movie on DIVX disc. It only plays once. If you want to watch it again you have to buy it again. :smack: No way. This was doomed from the beginning.
A more recent one from Target:
Henry Kloss Tivoli table radios. Sure the guy is a legend in audio and the radios did sound good and were cute. But $199 for a mono AM/FM radio? Seriously? Who did they think were going to buy these things? I knew one day they’d be on clearance for $50 or they’d all be sent back to the vendor. Sure enough, I don’t see them anymore.
Hostess Fruit-Flavored Potato Chips. I remember seeing these advertised in the 1970s and feeling a bit queasy at the thought. They came in orange, cherry, and grape flavors. These were introduced in Canada, and barely made it into the USA before being discontinued. I never tasted one. Apparently nobody else did, either.
Don’t get me wrong, they were a damn nice looking little radio Model One and when I first saw them I wanted one. Even at $50 it would have been expensive for an AM/FM radio but I may have splurged (as well as others) since it did have the cool factor. But I think $199 was a bit out of reality.
I have a fairly bad track record when it comes to guessing at the tastes of the masses.
When I was in Tokyo a few decades ago, I saw a whole lot of people playing what had to be the silliest videogame ever. I said to myself, “Can you imagine if they tried to sell that game in America? Nobody would ever play it. It would be an instant flop.”
The Sinclair C5. Sinclair was on a big roll, having enjoyed resounding success with his groundbreaking cheap home computers, then it all went completely tits-up. everyone in the whole world cringed with embarrassment at the C5 and said “Noooooo! Don’t do it, Clive!”, but he forged ahead with it and it was all steeply downhill from there.
I know they’re still around and have now achieved cult fan status, but that isn’t really success.
I knew that the Segway wasn’t going to be a hit. It’s not a total flop, as various uses have been found for them. But remember the inital buzz? Here’s a link to an article in Time that was typical of the press it was receiving.
I kept thinking “and this is easier than just walking how?”
Yeah, I remember that excitement - I think some of it was because of the buildup though - when it was ‘IT’ and nobody really knew for sure what ‘IT’ was going to be. After working themselves up to that kind of a frenzy, lots of people couldn’t just come straight back down to reality.
My father, who is 86, can’t walk very well at all, but he can stand just fine. He goes everywhere on his Segway, the grocery store, the post office, other stores, and just rolls around in the store on the Segway. It’s done wonders for his mobility, and makes him feel better than running one of those motorized wheelchair thingies.
Admittedly, not the world-shaking new mode of transport envisioned in the early days, but it works for him.
I was just reading an article in the doctor’s office about the new “green” city they are building in Abu Dhabi, and the plan mentioned that cars will be parked outside the city, and only Segways and other such transport will be used inside the city. Wish my mom could use one, but her problem is more with standing. I’d love to have one, because with my arthritis, walking hurts…a lot.