Can bad fmcg products be sold by good marketing or awesome advertising?

Can good/brilliant marketing sell a bad product?



May be for a short while, yes. The bad product will show it’s true colour sooner or later. The repercussions will be serious.

Instead, focus on creating a good product. The market will come to know of it eventually.

Of course, Yes.


But it goes deep.

If a company has launched a bad product then their brilliant marketing can really equip them to reach out to their target audience and excite them to take action (i.e, purchasing the product)


But after the customer experience the product, he/she will do the following:

  1. Wont buy for the second time (i.e, No Repeat Transactions)
  2. Will definitely tell his/her friends to never buy that product.

Things that will happen to the company after 2–3 week sales of the bad product with brilliant marketing:

  1. Marketing campaign will stop giving conversions leading to ineffective marketing.
  2. Goodwill of the company will go down.
  3. If the company deals in another product line, then the sales of that product will be affected.

A product is bad only of it doesn’t sell so, the product isn’t bad unless one has given up. Think out of the box to arrive at a sales strategy.

1.Add a service to your product .

2. Inovative use of it.

Post-it slips (yelow ones) are a classic example of failed product going on to become iconic products just because of innovative use.

3. Advertisement . Tell a lie, loudly and repeatedly so that people start believing

These steps may work for you to sell your product.

If you hope to reintroduce a failed product into the market you must rebrand the product to remove any negative carryover from the consumers, and then address the reason the product failed in the first exposure.

Evaluate and understand the reason the product failed the first time and fix that problem. You must improve the products if that was the reason for failure or reprice to meet consumer expectations. Sometimes it is simply a matter or waiting for better timing to reintroduce a product to a market not quite ready for it the first time. Often the advertising or marketing does not effectively explain the product or was even offensive the first time around. Sometimes your research will find that the product failed because no one wanted it in the first place.

Find the problem and fix the problem. Once you are sure the quality or solution is acceptable you must get the product back in the consumers hands. Free samples, free trials, new and improved marketing, more advertising, better targeting towards the expected market, etc.


Marketing is a wonderful investment. Indeed, it’s a necessary investment. There’s an economist, by the name of Israel Kirzner, who says that advertising is but an extension of the product or service, because it serves to communicate the WHY, the HOW, and the WHAT (if you don’t know what these mean, scroll up and watch the Simon Sinek video — you won’t be disappointed). But no matter how good or effective your marketing is, it can’t make up for a product that has no WHY or a product that doesn’t meet the needs of its users.

There’s an old saying, “good advertising is the fastest way to kill a bad product.” The reasoning behind this is that a great campaign work wonders to create demand and awareness, and purchases, of course. In a very short time. But once a critical mass of users has experienced the product and found it wanting, the backlash can be great enough to kill the product. Or at least, drive customers to the competition.

A good example is Microsoft Vista. Microsoft poured $500 million into the marketing campaign. But the product wasn’t ready to ship, IMO, and once users upgraded and discovered all the performance and compatibility issues, there was a huge revolt.

Apple jumped on the opportunity (being the genius marketers they are) and created a clever ad bashing Vista, which resulted in huge market share gain for the Macintosh.



Microsoft recovered, as they always do, but they dropped the $500 million marketing budget on this one.

Reasons-new fmcg -products-fail

There are certain product categories in which exaggerated claims are commonly made. For example, in the case of skin creams, cosmetics, perfumes, deodorants, toothpaste, mouthwash, and so on, advertisers typically claim (or suggest indirectly) that their products make the consumer more physically attractive, especially to the opposite sex.


The problem is that some consumers may not be sophisticated enough to discern the difference between innocent puffery and claims of effectiveness. Thus, teenage boys have been known to douse themselves with Unilever’s Axe deodorant products in the hope that they will attract females as effectively as is suggested in Axe’s notoriously provocative advertising. Many advertisements for such products come so close to making deceptive appeals that they may trigger the FTC’s attention. As a result, advertisers have learned to be cautious in the precise wording of their claims. For example, advertisements for skin cream may permissibly suggest that the user’s skin will “look and feel better” after use of the product, but they cannot include text guaranteeing the disappearance of wrinkles.

Pepsi-Blue-failed- Fmcg products.

Advertisers sometimes take the risk of shocking the public with their ads because they are seeking to break through the communications clutter of modern life. Today, the average American is exposed to a great number of advertising messages every day, with estimates running from several hundred to several thousand ads per day.2 In order to attract the public’s attention, advertisers may resort to appeals and tactics of questionable taste. Little wonder that more than half of Americans believe that advertising today is out of control. Social critics point to advertising as one of the most objectionable aspects of our consumer economy. From the billboards that blot out the countryside along highways, to the television shows that are interrupted every few minutes by outlandish commercials, to the mailboxes and e-mail accounts that become cluttered with direct marketing, advertising methods are often criticized for being intrusive, offensive, silly, and even dishonest.

The story of Tassimo vs Keurig.

Both were single-use proprietary pod coffee machines targeting the home market, launched around 2004.



For years, you could find both on places like Costco. Both seemed to be popular. The machines seemed similar. They were priced about the same, and so were the pods. Many brands of coffee were available for each brand.

For a while, it seemed a fair competition where the market may end up with two very similar systems, sharing similar market shares.

Except for two differences. The first one: Tassimo machines were clearly better.

Tasismo machines are smarter. Each pod had a barcode that told the machine how much water to pump among other characteristics. This means you could have stornger coffee, like expresso, or even prepare capuccinos.

The coffee tasted better too. It could have been the temperature, or the quality of the pods. Or maybe its European heritage. Tassimo had coffees like the President’s Choice that were exceptionals.

Today you can get great coffee’s like the dutch Hag, colombina Yuban, the German Jacobs or the L’or line of coffees. The Marcilla Cortado is one of my favorites.

The machines were built by Bosch, a German brand, and are of very high quality. My Tassimo machine at home has reliably been preparing coffee for me for about 10 years now.

Better machines, smarter system, similar price, higher quality coffee. You wold think Tassimo would win easily.

However, the second difference was, Keurig had better marketing.

It’s hard to explain. Honestly, I don’t have the data and would love to hear from anyone who was in the industry and has clues about what happened.

From my perspective as an observer, Keurig has better distribution. They invested better in their channel. They ran better promotions and provided better incentives.

As a result, my supermarket stopped carrying Tassimo discs, but they have plenty of Keurig discs for sales. I can only find Tassimo at one store (Bed Bath and Beyond) and online (on Amazon, imported discs). Tassimo was sold in the US to Gevalia, and has lost the consumer segment to Keurig, and the premium segment to Nespresso.

Keurig won. With an inferior product, but a better chanel marketing strategy.


This product failed at multiple frontiers – Marketing is the biggest one. I totally fail to understand what TG did TATA had in mind for their NANO car. Nano was marketed as ‘CHEAP’ / ‘Affordable’ car – So, I assume it was for the targeted towards the lower-middle class or towards the college-going-students – BUT if that is actually the case, I would say that TATAs did not actually understand their Nano’s TG at-all. Reasons, why I say this, are the following:



  1. Pricing of the NANO was way-too-expensive for the lower middle class.
  2. Wouldn’t a college-going student buy a fancy motorcycle for much less than 1 Lakh, instead of buying a 1.5 Lakh Nano?
  3. The Upper middle class & the middle class DO NOT SEE CARS as a UTILITY – not that they do not plan to use it – but they buy cars so that they can SHOW IT OFF. Obviously, no one would SHOW-OFF anything that’s tagged as CHEAP.
  4. Nano was built for short-distance travels – While in India, the MIDDLE-class mostly uses cars for long-distance travels – like going for a holiday to a nearby city or going to their relatives in the other end of the town. People prefer using rickshaw or auto or buses for shorter-distance-travels.
  5. Nano was marketed as ‘CHEAP’ car – but give me a break – How is 1.5 Lakh cheap – Anyone can get a good-going used car for that price.

Other issues that Nano had was that – (1) it can not accommodate a normal-sized MIDDLE class family (2) it had low suspension – which is BAD for elderly people.


The question demonstrates the danger in NOT understanding the definition of “Marketing”… and represents an icon of warning to those naive folk who perceive marketing as a synonym for advertising and promotion.

Marketing is vastly diversified discipline for the purpose of managing “exchange”. Product management is a much a part of marketing as is marketing communications.

This diagram begins to explain…

How to sell a failed product?

First understand why they failed:

  • wrong time?
  • wrong market?
  • wrong product (unfinished, low quality etc.)?
  • wrong price?
  • wrong name? (english titles that have a whole different meaning in the country sold)

Keep in mind that often it is not the product that failed but the way it was brought to the market. With Vista it did not failed due to the fact it was a shitty product. It failed due to so called “Internal Product Competition” and the fact that the IT hardware was not ready yet to support it. Microsoft came with a amazing product but forget that the average household did not have a computer to support it. It’s like putting a Ferrari Engine into a Fiat and then think nothing will break. For things will slow down and for sure customers will want their old engine back.


If you are trying to sell a failed product the first and best way to go is to change it’s name even though it is just an update of an existing product.

More suggestions for selling a failed product:

  • Find a new target market of buyers
  • Repackage the product
  • Change the price point
  • Reconfigure your marketing and advertising for the product
  • Test the product with members of your target market to see if it’s wanted
  • Change the copy in your marketing and advertising

It’s tough with commodity products.

But, typically, the answer is to find a use / feature of the product which will open up a previously unaware market.

Example: Listerine.

Listerine was a surgical cleaning tool. Some advertising man realized that you could gargle it and your breath would be minty.

So he invented the term “halitosis” to mean bad breath, and positioned Listerine as the first mouth wash. (First? Best? I forget.)

A great book on positioning is Positioning by Al Reid and Jack Trout.


Good marketing is done with an audience, instead of at them. Good marketing and product ownership are at different ends of the same continuum, or euphemistically, you can’t pick up one end of a stick.


A superior product creates real value in the lives or at least in the minds of the people that pay for it. Some people complained that Steve Jobs never really invented anything, he just branded products well, but that’s not true. The people willing to pay up  for a product release or pay more for something that was already on the market were getting something else through belonging to a tribe. Good marketing really is indistinguishable from good product.

 If a product isn’t performing well. Energy and time are wasted. Good marketing and product ownership tighten that up. We create a product/market fit. We align the efforts to improve the product and the message, the placement and the engagement, the features and the feedback.

At least 80% of all apps in the App Store are flagging. We tend to see products there that could never have delivered great value for its customers, but few of them were really developed with customers directly, and very few of them are doing well as products. They are thrust into our lives and we quickly ignore them, most of them.

While  listing great products that are poorly marketed, and none of them are obviously good fits for a more general audience. Each one feels like a discovery, private insight into something most people are missing. There are training courses, parking services, coffee shops, and books that we have particularly liked that most people haven’t heard of.

When you want to market a great product,look for a great product team that wants to collaborate on improving their product with me. We would be removing more than adding features. We would be listening harder. We would be irrationally loyal to the product and its audience until we’ve refined the product market fit sufficiently to prove that we were right, to make something truly remarkable.


Team DigitalGumma

A Professional Team Of Over 25 years of experience in Sales & Marketing operations, Channel (Direct & Indirect) Development and Distribution, and Key Account Management in the FMCG Sector. AREAS OF EXPERTISE Sales & Marketing: Conceptualizing and implementing sales promotional strategies as a part of brand building and market development effort. Business Development: Handling infrastructure development of sales & distribution systems and increasing coverage & penetration to have maximum market share. Channel Management: Identifying and networking with financially strong and reliable dealers/channel partners, Super Stockist, C&F resulting in deeper market penetration and reach. Ensuring cost-effective logistic operations & seamless materials movement to ascertain sufficient inventory levels at each sales outlet/ distribution channel. Evaluating performance & monitoring distributor sales and marketing activities. website has everything you need to create a fully personalized, high-quality free showcase website. Get the word out about all the amazing things you’re doing. Easily email your contacts or share on social media to tell everyone you know. Sell Anything Anywhere To Anyone. is a business development platform motivated to ideate connect propagate to millions of users worldwide. Create a beautiful, professional web presence. Our expert team members collaborate across digital marketing specialties to produce powerful results. Build your next digital marketing plan utilizing the latest internet technology, explode your online presence with a Fully Managed SEO program, and maximize your profits.

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