- Published: December 31, 2010
Inventions That Were Accidents (Forbes)
In order to sustain growth in the face of stiff competition, most companies find they have little choice but to continually find new products. For some companies, this means looking for products outside the organization, such as by purchasing or licensing products created by other companies. However, for the vast majority of firms, the search for new products is an ongoing internal process requiring a collaborative effort involving potentially hundreds of employees from different functional areas such as research and development, business operations, finance, and, of course, marketing.
Yet, even with a dedicated development plan in place, most companies will discover in-house efforts for creating new products are risky. The success rate for new product development is often quite low, with very few ideas actually reaching the testing stage. But, some companies find failure is sometimes a good thing. How can this be?
Well, sometimes failure of one idea leads to success for another idea. This can occur when the marketer is looking for one type of product only to find another product has evolved. Some examples of products that were not part of the original product development idea phase are found in this story. Among the products discussed are Kleenex, Kotex, Ivory Soap, Popsicle and Zout.
Overall, this story provides clear examples of why companies need to have an open mind with what they develop. Sometimes marketers have products showing little promise in one area but possessing potential if marketed for solving a different need.
The story also provides insight into the accidental development of several other products including chewing gum, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies.
Kimberly-Clark's famous facial tissue brand started life as a cold cream remover. But Ernest Mahler, a hay fever sufferer who ran K-C's research, technical and engineering departments, started using it as a disposable handkerchief, and then he realized he could sell it for that new use.
Besides the products discussed in this story, what other products were developed by accident or found success when marketed for different uses?
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