David Whitelam is the general manager, U.K., EU and APAC at System1. This is an edited version of an article that originally appeared under the title “Avoiding Product Flops with Innovation Testing.” 

Budweiser B, Dyson washing machine, Pepsi Blue – they might not be products you’ve heard of, but they did exist at one point. Despite the mass popularity of the brands producing these innovations, they were discontinued. In fact, 95% of new innovations fail. From research and design to production to testing to marketing, there are many costs that go into product development. So, what does it take to make a product popular – to be one of the lucky 5%? Is there a way to predict success? How can businesses minimize risk?

We dive deeper into innovation misses as well as best practices to give product development and marketing teams confidence in their ideas.

There are numerous reasons why products fail to take off.

Companies often enlist focus groups to capture information about consumer preferences ahead of a new product launch. However, focus group participants often choose responses they perceive to be more socially acceptable rather than expressing their true opinions or feelings. They lean into System 2 processing, which is more analytical and rational. It’s usually not the way people behave when making a purchase – System 1 processing is near instantaneous and requires little effort. Additionally, focus groups typically frame questions as “Would you purchase this product?” even though most people are not good at predicting their own future behaviors.

While it’s difficult to know the level of research and type that went into creating products like Coca-Cola’s BlāK, a coffee-flavored cola, or Heinz EZ Squirt, ketchup that was colored green, purple and teal, it’s likely that consumer needs and preferences weren’t met with these discontinued innovations.

The wrong approach to pricing ca...