8 Lessons from a Product Failure

product failure

QSR chain Harvey’s launched Build-a-Bowl, a new fast food concept, in 2017. R&D took two years, countless wo/man hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars. The launch was supported by an integrated marketing campaign and 50% off promos to drive trial. 

Alas, Harvey’s Build-a-Bowl is no more.

What Went Wrong?

Allow me to speculate as to reasons for the demise:

  • The disconnect. Harvey’s has always been known as a burger chain. When you see the logo (a burger), you don’t expect salads and rice bowls. 
  • Competitors. Consumers with a hankering for salads and rice bowls have better options than going to a burger joint.
  • Complexity and execution. The wide assortment of fresh ingredients no doubt posed a challenge to execute well.
  • Team alignment and buy-in. Execution depended on franchisees who may not have bought-in to the program.

At the end of the day, insufficient sales and profit are primary reasons for product failure or pulling the plug on a program. 

Lessons for Food Brands

#1.  Stay true to your brand. Don’t confuse your target customer.

#2.  Digging into competitive turf is challenging and risky.

#3.  Keep it simple. Consistent quality and ease of execution are critical.

#4.  Timing. Is it the right product at the right time?

#5.  Limit packaging order commitments in case of failure.

#6.  Understand the reasons for resistance to buy-in. They may be valid.

#7.  Ensure it’s profitable and competitively priced.

#8.  Don’t hesitate to discontinue underperformers.

This post is an update to the original Harvey’s Build-a-Bowl launch article… 

Birgit Blain is president of a packaged foods consultancy specializing in strategy, brand and packaging development. Her multidisciplinary team prepares brands for the next stage of growth. Birgit’s experience includes 17 years in the grocery trade with Loblaw Companies and President’s Choice®. Learn more at www.BBandAssoc.com

© Birgit Blain

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