This article will discuss why do companies discontinue successful products? It is a common notion that companies discontinue products because they haven’t made them a big success.
This is the other side of the story. Companies discontinue products because they have failed to live up to the market expectations of their customers.
A poorly designed product is more expensive to manufacture, sell, and market than a better-designed product. But the biggest reason is that the product no longer meets the requirements of customers.
In general, successful products sell and generate profits quickly and rapidly. Hence, the company has to stop producing a poor-performing product to conserve their capital and maximize profits from performing products.
So, the bigger question is, how can product designers in the biopharma industry generate a new version of a successful product? To answer this, we will use the recent example of the Lipitor brand of drugs.
When the company was looking to discontinue the Lipitor brand of drugs and launch a new generic version in the United States, they had to develop a compelling and better-designed version to eliminate the Lipitor brand and compete against the Lipitor branded version.
If we go back to discontinuing Lipitor company, they have taken the product and completely redesigned it to meet customer expectations. For example, they have made it available in a single dose, and they have made it available in capsules which makes it convenient to take.
The company has also taken into account the obesity issue in America, and it has put a warning on the pill, so people do not abuse the product.
Now that the new version of the Lipitor brand has been launched, the company has to run the same marketing campaign and manufacture and promote Lipitor’s new version. The company will have to create a new logo, sign, packaging, and other materials.
But there is a more challenging aspect for the company as they also have to be concerned about the drug’s quality. It is not the issue of the quality but the delivery of the drug.
How is the drug delivered to the end-user? This is more important in the case of Lipitor.
To improve the delivery of the drug, the company has to change the packaging and manufacturing process.
One of the reasons product designers are trained to develop a product is to solve their customers’ problems. The problem that product designers will be faced with in Lipitor’s case is that Lipitor’s brand of drugs has not created a significant impact on the market.
To make a better product, they have to identify the problem which the end-user face. A customer pain point is defined as the problem faced by a customer with a product.
In Lipitor’s case, the problem is not that there are people who cannot get Lipitor, but rather, they are satisfied with the brand of Lipitor, and the brand of Lipitor is strong enough for them to continue to use it.
Product designers need to identify the customer’s needs and then design a new solution that addresses the needs. For example, the solution may be that patients will need to visit a physician to complete the prescription.
The solution may involve creating a digital solution such as a web portal, and the web portal will integrate with the physician software.
Product designers need to understand that they cannot simply assume that the customer’s problem is the problem that the product designers need to solve. Sometimes, it is the need that the product designers are seeking which is the problem which the customer is facing, and that is where a gap can be identified.
And product designers need to develop a solution that addresses the needs of both customers.
In the above scenario, the customer’s need is to get their prescription filled. The end-user pain point is obtaining the prescription.
The customer expects a web portal that can efficiently communicate with the physician and the physician software to send prescription information.
The takeaway for marketers is to pay attention to which customers initially buy a product, not how many customers buy.
The reason this happens, the authors say, is that harbingers of failure are more likely to buy products that other customers don’t consistently — maybe they’re attracted to niche products that appeal to only a narrow slice of the marketplace.
Companies could use the research to identify doomed products before they hit store shelves or shortly after. During the product development stage, marketers should ask people whether they would buy the new product and what other products they buy — to judge whether they have mainstream tastes.
The study also found evidence of the opposite: that customers who tend to buy a successful product, like a Swiffer mop, are more likely to buy other products that turn out to be successful, like Arizona Iced Tea, to use the authors’ examples.
Researchers said that topic is ripe for future study that may prove more difficult — identifying consumers who are harbingers of success.