What not to do: Mistakes made by successful companies!

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Mmz Año 7 - Edición 66

Taking risks is a big part of our lives. The business world is a major example of this. After all, many big companies are a hit just because they took that risk. However, sometimes those prove that not every idea is good, and knowing your market is highly important. You may be surprised to find out which big companies took risks and failed in a grandeur way. Keep reading to know more about those mistakes that brands want to forget but are incredible to learn a lesson.

Read: What you should know about big data if you are an entrepreneur?

Mistakes made by successful companies

As with everything in life, learning by making mistakes is a must in the business world, and these companies are the best example of this. Of course, the idea wasn’t that bad, but the audience can be harsh, and with this, the opinion of the buyers is the most important thing. These mistakes are great examples of what NOT TO DO, teaching everybody amazing lessons. Still, we are going to get to that in a bit. First, let’s dive into these interesting mistakes made by widely known companies.

Coca-Cola Wanted a “New Coke”

The beverage company has huge popularity, great marketing campaigns, and many years of experience. Still, in 1985 they tried to change the game. Let’s see those years the competition in the carbonated drinks field was tough. Pepsi was breathing in their necks, so they just wanted to do something that helped them keep the favorite coke title in the market. That was how the New Coke was born, a new formula and flavor leaving behind the classic one. 

new coke

That was the mistake. Humans don’t react well to changes and less if they threaten something beloved as the classic coke. Plus, consumerism is a force to be reckoned with, and people tend to react in strange ways under this. So, after the announcement, many fanatics of the classic flavor started to make nervous purchases to store the beverage at home. Groups such as “Society for the Preservation of Royal Coca” and “Drinkers of Old Coca Tail” want to protect this one.

The ironic part was that the company made studies. This wasn’t something in the heat of the moment. They carried out a group study with 200 thousand participants, and people reacted favorably to the “New Coke.” The marketing was top-notch with slogans such as “The great new flavor,” “Better than ever,” and “The best can only get better,” which are great as every campaign from Coca-Cola. Still, nothing of this worked, and in July of that same year, the company brought back the classic flavor with its image. 

The sales after this fiasco were so high that experts considered this as a strategy to increase them and lead the race a step ahead of the competition. The “New Coke” was erased from the market in 2002, and Coca-Cola learned its lesson. Now you can find different versions and flavors derived from the original. Still, the spotlight will always be for the classic one. 

China said 不 (NO) to Barbie

Barbie dolls have always been controversial. Mattel Inc. is the most famous toy company globally. Still, when they tried to conquer the Chinese market, they made several mistakes that resulted in a huge monetary loss and the opportunity to have a place in this important market. Moreover, in modern times where the natural look and self-love have become so important. 

The company has changed strategies, and with their campaign “You can be anything,” they want to encourage little girls to be what they want to be. However, with the Chinese market, they fail with a little thing: a study market. Just like the West market, presenting the same style for the dolls there would never be a good move. In China and East Asia in general, this trend is called “Kawaii,” which is all about cuteness. Barbie failed to observe that.

Barbie in China

In 2009 the brand opened a six-story store in Shanghái with a huge investment. Still, after 2 years, they closed the store, which obviously resulted in monetary loss. They didn’t realize that little Chinese girls don’t like that type of doll. Remember that even when Barbie wants to encourage girls to be anything they want, its image is sexy and modern. In Asia, toys must be childish, colorful, and cute, falling into the Kawaii category. Sadly, Barbie doesn’t have that image. 

China has proved to be a strong and important market in the last decades, but companies must understand what that audience there likes and wants, what their needs and problems are because those are completely opposite to the West. So their mistake was to pretend that the entire audience in the world like the same thing, which is not true, plus ethnicity and culture plays an important part when a company wants to introduce a product to a new market. 

Microsoft Lost Its Vista

Yes, pun intended! Windows Vista was one of Microsoft’s worst OS (Operative System). Still, here we can find another example of humans hating changes. Vista was heavy, unstable, and expensive, and users adapted very well to XP. To date, it’s still one of the best OS that Microsoft has presented. 

With the success of XP, many thought that Vista could be even better, while others were already hating it. Still, it was too much, which is understandable. Windows has always been a visual OS, easy to navigate and use. However, Vista didn’t fulfill the expectations and presented many problems. Microsoft pushed the marketing to an annoying level, even paying $ 10 million to the famous comedian Jerry Seinfeld to promote the OS. Which honestly was too much effort for an OS that was already out of the question. 


This ended with Microsoft authorizing the addition of an uninstalls option to return to XP. However, as with every mistake, Vista was what Microsoft needed to come up with an even better OS that mixed the good features of Vista with the excellent performance of XP, that was how Windows 7 was born and after that Windows 10, now Microsoft is getting ready to launch Windows 11 which so far is predicted to be the best OS to date.

Nintendo Was Way Ahead of Its Time

Nintendo is one of the most famous video game and console companies in the world. They changed pop culture by giving us characters such as Donkey Kong or Mario Bros and friends. Let’s not forget consoles like Nintendo DS, Wii, and the most recent Nintendo Switch. And how to bypass that thanks to them we know Pikachu and Ash, Pokemon was founded by them and other associates. But as with many Japanese companies, they have incredible ideas that sadly are way ahead of their time. 

In Japan, people have these innovative but sometimes crazy ideas, and Nintendo wasn’t the exception. Now, think about what kind of graphics existed in those years, and the console itself was horrible. In 1995, a decade of many changes thanks to being closing a millennium and starting a new one, the console company presented “Virtual Boy,” a 3D Game System which brought a VR (virtual reality) headset that presented monochrome 3D Graphics but let’s be honest right now in 2021 there are many systems that are still struggling with VR and AR (augmented reality) the graphics are top-notch, but the user experience needs improvements.

This is a perfect example of an innovative idea but with poor execution, plus it wasn’t the right time. This type of idea needs years of study, especially because it implies new technologies. Japan is widely known for its innovation, but the rest of the world is still way behind. The funny part is that Nintendo is pretty famous for its failures. Virtual Boy wasn’t the only one. Remember the GameCube and a few more. 

Kodak Didn’t Want to Jump in The Digital Era.

Darwin was very clear when he said: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” We tend to forget that and hate changes. Kodak is the best example of this. We normally like pictures. They are an incredible tool to capture an important memory who hasn’t laughed or cried while seeing old family pictures. They have that magic to awaken stronger emotions in us! 

Kodak was the absolute king in this market, especially because they also created the rolls and chemical materials to develop films and pictures besides producing and selling amazing cameras. But their problem wasn’t capacity, ideas, or even within the organization. It was more about culture and adaptation. They understood that the digital era was taking every aspect of our lives to even selling digital cameras. Still, they were slower to accept that people weren’t developing roll films anymore. The executives were known for their expertise and experience in the photography area. Still, they never comprehend the magic of the digital world. 

When they came to terms with modern times, it was too late, and in 2012 they declared voluntary bankruptcy. Nowadays, Kodak is still operating. They are trying to find a new place in the market, but sadly they lose that great position. Still, they surely enter the digital world. Their social media accounts prove that, and trends tend to repeat, so it could be possible to get back to old films thanks to a viral movement. Anything can happen! 

Why should you analyze these companies?

Pay close attention. These companies are proof that some things are necessary to succeed and keep aloof. First, a study market MUST BE DONE. You need to study the audience in every aspect, from what they need to their culture, if you want to reach a new market that is way too different from yours. Also, this study is great to find out if the company has the necessary infrastructure and technology to back up the new product.

The second part is all about listening to the audience. This is possible because the study market says something, but humans are rare and like to change opinions. Besides that, we hate changes moreover with things so dear to us. Products with many years and that are part of the culture are almost untouchable as the Coca-Cola experience. We really enjoy a Diet or Zero Coke, but the classic is still the preferred. 

The third point here is that even when the audience hates changes, they are necessary. Adaptation is a key in everything. Take a look at the many changes that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced to implement. QR codes, deliveries, digital meetings, and broadcasting systems are part of the new normalcy. Still, humans are proving to be so headstrong that they hate many of those changes. The best opportunities can be found in the darkest times! However, we must give a standing ovation to many companies that took advantage of this turbulent situation.

Companies can definitely learn from these examples and find the best solution and strategy for their ideas. It’s not that hard to take notes. History is bound to repeat itself. It’s our job to change that course of action. Keep in touch with the Magazine to read more about the companies and their stories. 

Learn from the mistakes of famous companies.

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