According to Nielsen data, 15% of consumer product goods launched in the U.S. will survive their first year. For those companies who do survive, by year 10, 44% of the 15% that survived year one will still exist. Senior Vice President of Innovation at Nielsen, Teddy Hall, concludes that product launch failures attribute to more than poor packaging. Hall even goes on to say that, “how ‘different’ a product looks turns out to be a very poor predictor of success.” Instead, in many cases, a company’s success relies on the business model and whether it is sustainable enough to handle velocity.

Before a product launch, start-ups need to be able to answer the following questions:

  1. Can your company support fast growth? A best-case scenario ramp-up plan is necessary if the product takes off.
  2. Is your product all that you made it out to be? A delay in a product launch is never a bad thing. If a faulty product reaches the market it will be a very harsh uphill battle that many companies can’t overcome due to lack of funding.
  3. Is your product in limbo? When a product is in limbo, in many cases, it is because the target market is undefined. Test the products to make sure its differences will sway buyers.
  4. Is your product part of a new niche market? If so, have you created enough substantial consumer education? If consumers don’t understand a product, they won’t know why they need it. Giving consumers a reason why a product solves their problem is a good starting point.
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Packaging is still important for some companies. For example, Coca Cola, a brand with a solid and sustainable business model, had to discontinue their limited edition white Coke can design. Charles Spence, an expert in the field of multi-sensory integration studies, said the Coke can design failed because consumer perception, falsely, believed that Coke had changed its formula and it didn’t taste good.


Additionally, Spence conducted an experiment for Pringles with the hypothesis that the perceived taste of chips could be altered by the sound of their crunch. When the experiment concluded, his hypothesis was realized: how fresh or stale the chips sounded altered participants’ tastes. Since then, companies like Axe redesigned its spray deodorant with louder, masculine sounding nozzles that appeal to young men.

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Here are ways to create packaging that has an impact:

  1. Understand the Demographic Determine who the target audience is. Are they a young female audience? Maybe consider bright colors with fun packaging materials. Are they are older males? Maybe consider more masculine colors and packaging materials.
  2. Personalize the Packaging Consider ‘ballin’ on a budget’. The packaging doesn’t have to be expensive, but it needs to look high quality. There are many inexpensive solutions out there.
  3. Make the Packaging Part of the Experience Everyone enjoys opening up a new Samsung, Microsoft, or Apple product. It is because these companies really spend time on the unveiling of the product, both through their advertising efforts and for their packaging.
  4. Consider Eco-Friendly Reusable or recyclable packaging is always a reason for a consumer to choose a product over their competitors.

Start-ups that believe their product is a force of “disruptive innovation,” can actually be perceived as too risky, which may lead to stagnation in potential funding. “Disruptive Innovation” is an overused phrase that doesn’t always result in successful business launches.

Companies don’t need to be in a niche business in order to be successful. By simply making sure the product is ready for launch and the business model is robust enough to handle scalability, this will put companies in a better position to be part of the 15% who survive their first year. Once they make it through the first year, hopefully these companies will make it to 10 years.