Hall of Shame

Gee, your hair smells like yogurt

Not every new product can be a knockout, like light beer or TV dinners. Of the more than 5,000 items that annually appear on supermarket shelves, as many as 80% are commercial duds. Last week marketing specialists who attended the World New Products Conference in Toronto tried to learn some lessons from an exhibit of about 900 less-than-successful items.

Many failed efforts are simply misunderstood by consumers. When Heublein put its Wine and Dine dinners on sale in the mid-1970s (price: $1.35), buyers thought they were getting a macaroni dinner along with some wine to sip. The...

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