7 of the Worst Product Launches of All Time

product launch fails

Crystal Pepsi didn’t win the race to the “successful product” finish line.
Image source: Flickr user gavin rice

Some products are remembered for their resounding success, and others are widely known for being epic failures. Whether a product becomes a hit or falls flat with consumers, one thing is for certain: every product launch represents a unique opportunity for learning and growth. Here are seven of the most memorable product launch failures of all time and what you can learn from their example when designing your own concept testing and product development strategies. Continue reading

Because Bacon: How Chocolate Covered Bacon Almost Took The Market By Storm

chocolate covered bacon

Chocolate covered bacon, sometimes called “Pig Lickers,” has been a hot niche trend around the country. Image source: Flickr user Javcon117


Whether you’re enjoying a plate of sunny side up eggs or a fresh Cobb salad, certain meals simply aren’t complete without a dash of bacon. However, some people’s love of the crispy and delicious pork product extends well beyond traditional dishes. In the first post of this new recurring monthly series that we’re calling “Because Bacon,” we’re taking a look at some of the best and worst bacon-related products to hit the market.

For many creative cooks, bacon truly does make everything taste better. The newest bacon-infused recipes range from both the innovative to the bizarre. Here’s the story of how one particularly unique concoction– chocolate covered bacon– began to gain popularity among consumers, and some helpful lessons that every business can take away from the case study.

Where did the idea for chocolate covered bacon come from?

It’s difficult to determine how chocolate covered bacon came to be. The history of the sweet and salty treat varies from source to source. However, the earliest online mentions of the recipe date back to 2005. Though the exact origins of chocolate covered bacon remain a mystery, some sites suggest that the product made its first appearance at a state fair in Minnesota. Others imply that the idea for chocolate covered bacon was the brainchild of a small group of friends enjoying a lunch date at a local restaurant. Though its history is uncertain, one thing is for sure: chocolate covered bacon eventually became a hit with consumers.

In 2005, different recipes for the sweet and salty snack began appearing on the internet. Chocolate covered bacon also became a hit vendor item at the Minnesota State Fair. Eventually, variations began popping up at other fairs and beach boardwalks around the United States. Slowly but surely, chocolate covered bacon was piquing the interest of snack-lovers everywhere with adventuresome palettes.

The tipping point for chocolate covered bacon

The tipping point came when the popular Food Network television program Dinner: Impossible featured the recipe in one of their episodes.

The episode, which aired in the summer of 2008, featured gourmet chef Michael Symons at the famous Wildwood, NJ boardwalk. His mission was to take run-of-the-mill beach snacks and turn them into high-end recipes fit for an upscale dinner. One of the concoctions he came up with was chocolate covered bacon. It was subsequently introduced to the menu at Laura’s Fudge, one of the Wildwood boardwalk’s most popular shops.

After seeing the episode, foodies everywhere began flocking to Laura’s Fudge to sample the salty and sweet treat. It became such a hit with customers that other restaurants began coming up with chocolate and bacon recipes of their own. Denny’s launched a limited time menu aptly named Baconalia, which featured a mouth-watering caramel and chocolate bacon sundae. Burger King also climbed aboard the bacon bandwagon, launching a hot fudge and bacon ice cream treat of its own in 2012. Independent restaurants across the country began coming up with their own unique takes on chocolate covered bacon. The owners of Animal, a Los Angeles-based eatery, developed a bacon chocolate bar. A number of specialty shops and gourmet chocolatiers now carry or have carried their own versions of the product in the past.

What’s happened to the chocolate-covered bacon craze?

Since reaching its peak sometime in 2012, the chocolate covered bacon craze seems to have died down lately. It’s difficult to judge whether or not the unique snack, which borders on the bizarre, is simply a novelty product that will fizzle out over time or an innovative treat with real staying power. It seems only time will tell what the future holds for chocolate covered bacon.

There are two important lessons here for creative business owners that have developed interesting recipe concoctions.

The first is that concept testing can go a long way towards predicting whether or not a particular product will be successful. In the case of chocolate covered bacon, the Dinner: Impossible episode served as the testing grounds for the new concept product. Diners responded favorably to the unique treat, and variations were subsequently introduced at various eateries across the USA. But it’s important to dig deeper in order to determine whether a product falls only into the category of flitty novelty purchase, as opposed to having the true withstanding potential to become a regular treat.

Secondly, in-depth market research can help you identify up and coming food trends. A well thought-out effort can help you determine which ingredients and recipes are gaining steam among consumers. If you’re noticing a trend– even one that seems counterintuitive such as blending smoky bacon with sweet chocolate– test it with the market. You may have a surprise hit on your hands.

If you’re interested in using concept testing to determine whether a new recipe might be a hit with your customers, Instant.ly’s platform can help you get started. Contact us today for more information.

Helpful Market Research Insights from Harvard Business School

market research insights

Business schools have the latest insights on innovation and market research. Here’s what HBS had to say.
Image source: Flickr user University of Salford 

The market research landscape is constantly evolving. New strategies, methodologies, and systems of delivery are being regularly introduced. For companies that are conducting campaigns to better understand their target audience’s needs and expectations as well as to keep a finger on the market pulse, it’s important to stay up on the newest innovations in the field. Some of the best thinking is regularly coming out of major academic institutions, where professors and researchers are working hard to learn what drives consumer behavior and how businesses can harness that information to improve performance. If you’re mapping out an upcoming market research campaign for your business, here are some of the latest insights from the experts at Harvard Business School (HBS). Continue reading

Instant.ly Shelf Score – July 2014

Instantly Shelf Score

We recently launched the Instant.ly Concept Testing platform, designed to be a rapid and easy solution for companies that want to test new concepts early in the product development process. With 95% of new product launches failing, it’s important to look for early warning signs and market indicators of success. Consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies are constantly launching new products. It’s been estimated that 50% of revenue for food-based CPG companies comes from products that weren’t on the shelves five years before. It’s easy to see why more than 20,000 new products hit the shelf each year. Being data geeks, we love tracking trends and helping our clients follow developments in the CPG space, which is why we’re publishing Instant.ly Shelf Score™.

Continue reading

5 Tips for Developing Insightful Research Analysis

data analysis

How you analyze and visualize data makes all the difference.
Image source Flickr user Marc Smith

Many companies set out with a research agenda that’s focused on a specific goal: should we move ahead with this new product design, is our customer service organization functioning effectively, or what direction should our company go next? Others simply know that it’s time to get access to market data, ideally directly from their customers, and so they create a research design and initiate a survey or concept test.

There are several elements that go into a successful market research effort, from asking the right questions to going after the right sample group. But one area that we haven’t discussed in a while is how to develop insightful research analysis. Your ability to extract impactful insights from your research is what will determine whether it’s a success or not. Here’s a closer look at five tips every company should keep in mind for developing insightful survey and market research analysis.

Continue reading

What’s the Difference between a Concept Test and a Product Test?

shopping cart with items

Which product concepts will make it into consumers’ carts? Concept testing lets you know.
Image source: Flickr user Robert Couse-Baker

For brands that are introducing testing into their product development process for the first time, it’s important to understand the different types of testing that apply throughout the product development life cycle. Understanding what testing options are appropriate at each step in the process can keep you focused, and ensure that you get the kind of feedback you need from your audience to be successful in the market. Here’s a closer look at the differences between concept testing and product testing. More importantly, here are some key takeaways every brand needs to know about concept testing and why it needs to be a central aspect of your product development testing plan.

Continue reading

Why Now’s the Perfect Time to Shake Up Your Market Research Efforts

changing market research

Is your research agenda stuck? It may be time to mix things up.
Image credit Jake Hills via Unsplash

Is your company doing all that it could and should be doing with regard to your research agenda? Many marketers and managers have their doubts. It’s often a case of not conducting enough research, not doing the right research, or not pushing the boundaries of innovation. In a few cases, it’s not doing any market research at all! Yet more than ever, companies are coming to realize that the market’s voice can transform everything – from how they choose which concepts to develop into full-blown products to how to manage and deploy those in the market. Many companies find that their research agendas go stale over time. There’s never been a better time to shake up your agenda and tackle new challenges with market research. Here’s how to make that happen.

Continue reading

3 Ways Real-time Mobile Market Research Can Improve Your Customer Service


Customer service

Are your customer service reps asleep on the job?
Image credit: Flickr user Jo Tagliatella

Mobile market research has been a game changer for many organizations, helping them to gather real-time feedback that offers a unique perspective on every aspect of doing business. Whether it’s faster product iterations, event feedback, or the inside scoop on how your team is performing, mobile market research can be a business’ best tool for identifying and fixing problems before they affect the bottom line. Here are three ways that businesses are creatively using mobile market research – and market research in general – to improve their customer service.

Continue reading

4 Fundamental Aspects to Include in Every Concept Test

concept testing

Which cookie concept will respondents prefer?
Image source: Flickr user oskay

The application of testing to innovation may seem counterintuitive. After all, isn’t innovation about inspiration? However, concept testing is a core aspect of the product development discipline. It’s important to take a closer look at where the concept test process fits into the overall product development lifecycle. Each concept test should ideally contain at least four fundamental aspects in order to be a success. Here’s a closer look at how to write an effective concept test brief.

Continue reading

5 Reasons Why Focus Groups Aren’t Suitable for Concept Testing

concept testing

Concept testing can now be done in online in a consumer’s home.
Image source: Alejandro Escamilla via Unsplash

Focus groups have long been a staple in the market research world. Even though the introduction of survey technology and online research has reframed our entire market research paradigm, some myths persist about focus groups. Some researchers feel – especially for specific kinds of research – that you can get particularly deep insights by gathering a group of similar consumers in a room and asking them questions. In some cases, a focus group may be a logical choice for one piece of your research design. But for most brands, especially those thinking about concept testing, focus groups are the wrong format. Here’s a closer look at the reasons why focus groups don’t work for concept testing and what companies should do instead.

Continue reading