According to Harvard Business School about 95 percent of new consumer products fail. We’ve all heard about different flops, from New Coke to the Samsung Note 7 to Fitbit Force, new consumer products are coming and going quickly and maybe sometimes they’re disappearing too quickly…right?
In other cases it’s not failure that drives the change but progress, where brands discontinue products to make space for new trends or better technologies or more efficient production.
Are brands making the right decisions when they discontinue a product?
How can they tell?
How do brands listen to feedback on discontinued products?
Well the short answer here is that each brand decides for itself…there seem to be different mechanisms and factors that cause brands to listen and bring back discontinued products. Some examples:
- Social media monitoring: With brands leveraging social media to connect with their followers, it makes sense that consumers would utilize this connection to leave comments under brand posts, to send direct messages to brands and to get hashtags trending to bring back discontinued products they just can’t live without. The challenge with social media monitoring solutions is that in most cases they don’t excel in their analytics capabilities. This means that if there’s a strong trend you’ll get notified, but if the trend is building across time you are not going to know about it.
- Direct connect: Brands provide many ways to connect directly with them via call centers, websites, etc. For example, cosmetics giant Estée Lauder had set up its Gone But Not Forgotten program, which recovers products that have been discontinued within the last 36 months for consumers. Obviously, there are 2 challenges with this approach. The first is that consumers need to know about such programs or ways of contact and make the effort. The second is that the brands need to run these programs under granular analytics to be able to recognize demand for discontinued products vs generic contact center feedback (if the feedback is received on a general purpose channel)
What about eCommerce ratings and reviews?
Consumer reviews and feedback data have in fact become the world’s largest consumer panel, and because it is anonymous, consumers share loads and loads of data as no one is worried about saying the wrong thing. In fact, it’s even better than just the world largest consumer panel. Since consumers are not concerned that they are monitored and as such, convey their opinions more freely, this consumer panel is likely the most honest and accurate.
With so much high-quality data available on such a diversified set of consumer goods/services topics – every consumer brand would benefit from closely following this resource. The challenge is on the analytics side. Most brands fail to gain deep granular insights from ratings and reviews to the level of “bring this product back” or “why did you discontinue this one” (See our recent post Tired of Slow and Shallow Consumer Insights for more on this challenge).
The good news is that now new, affordable technologies exist that can automatically decipher ratings and reviews (as well as other sources like social media and call centers, etc.) to the level where they can be knowledgeable about their customer wish list. See some examples.
Real world examples for “bring it back” or “please don’t stop making” reviews
Our experience serving many leading brands across numerous verticals shows that when consumers are disappointed with discontinued products they will mention it even if they are happy with the replacement product. In addition when consumers are happy with a specific product they will also make a point to the brand to keep this product and not discontinue it.
Example 1 – Ice cream
See below real-world reviews about ice cream flavors from around the globe that were picked up automatically by our system:
Example 2 – sports shoes
Like ice cream reviews, see below real-world reviews about different sport shoe models that were picked up automatically by our system:
Finding the gold in your discontinued products
As seen in 2 very different industries, consumers get attached to certain products and are either proactively asking brands to keep them or request they be resurrected after they’re discontinued.
There are several channels that help brands listen in to these requests and assess demand, however the key challenge is the analysis of these channels (granular analysis of raw consumer opinions).
Luckily, Revuze offers a great example of granular analysis that is completely automated and affordable. The Revuze solution can analyze any every written opinion of consumer goods or services without the need for any human interaction. This eliminates the need for IT or Data Science experts and results in 5x-10x the amount of granular, timely and actionable insights as compared to any other method.