By Deborah Wroe
Given the news overload of late you may have missed the announcement in early June of a new museum in Sweden dedicated to all things failure. The world’s first Museum of Failure is the brainchild of Dr Samuel West, an organisational psychologist. The collection consists of over seventy failed products and services from around the world. Every item provides unique insight into the risky business of innovation.
Dr West’s criteria for a failure was when a product did not lead to the expected outcome. The museum contains Harley-Davidson fragrance, Bic ‘for her’ lady pens, and a Donald Trump board game.
We remember the Bic pen coming out in 2015 “Look like a girl, act like a lady, think like a man, work like a boss”. How the heck did that fail??! And Harley Davidson fragrance? Was it designed to make your head smell of petrol? And apparently the Donald Trump board game is impossible to play. Quite honestly we expected it to be overly simple whilst paradoxically also extremely difficult to make sense of.
The museum sounds just brilliant. As well as the exhibits they also offer spin off events such as tasting rubbish beer and listening to rubbish music from well known composers. Their Instagram account is brilliant “These dogs found the museum to be a big failure. They hated it. And they found it very strange that we are not exhibiting any cats…”. A new addition to the museum is a failure confession booth for visitors to record their own failures for posterity (and social media sharing).
On a serious note 80-90% of innovation products fail and we can learn from them. You can laugh at some of the products and think well yes, obviously that didn’t work but personally speaking there’s a ton of products that do sell and I can’t see why.
I stand by bottled water being one of the biggest cons going! And why buy pasta sauce when it’s so easy to make?
But my stand out current what the heck product is VIPoo – that name?! It’s an air freshener that you spray down the loo before a number two and it allegedly means that your boss can go in after you and there will be no smell. You probably think we are making this up right? Watch the ad. It’s bonkers. We reckon that if there wasn’t so much bad news at the moment it would have had the pee ripped right out of it on social media.
Anyhoo, the products and services in the Museum of Failure were undoubtedly tested and refined before being launched, which is what we always advocate – don’t go in blind, but they still failed, so what can we learn? Well firstly your goal has to be to NOT end up in the museum, but also, is there a need or want for your new product or service? Can you fulfil it? Is there room in the market? Are you solving a genuine problem? Can you do things differently or better than the competition? How do your customers and your competitors’ customers perceive you?
A big marketing spend can’t save a bad idea and weak research. And no that’s not an inspirational quote, which we tend to find irritating rather than inspiring, it’s just a marketing mantra that it’s important to keep front and centre. Alternatively you could have ‘you can’t polish a turd’. Welcome.