Marketers Must Have Good Products But Sometimes Good Isn’t Good Enough

Not many people remember a product called Zima, and that’s the point of this post. As a marketing professional, I’ve always been interested in new product introductions and advertising campaigns in general— how well do they work? how long do they “run” (suggesting that the positive effects are continuing to produce results or, if nothing else, that the agency and client haven’t “pulled the plug” prematurely).

In addition, as someone who is not a “beer drinker,” I was interested several years ago when a new product was introduced—Zima—a beer-based beverage that was supposed to be light and refreshing. Hmm. Sounded interesting. The campaign was extensive, attention-getting, and effective—to a degree. It raised awareness. It generated preference (at least initially). All was good. Right? Wrong.

The Most Brilliant Ad Campaigns Can’t Sustain a Bad Product

It may come as a shock to some, but generating advertising awareness and preference is not enough—at least not from a big-picture “marketing” standpoint. What else do you need?

Well, most importantly and foundationally you need a good product or service that consumers will try (after you’ve generated awareness and preference, which is certainly important) and keep buying. If they try your product or service, never try it again, and never tell their friends, relatives, business associates, etc., how great it was, you’ve got a problem.

That’s what happened with Zima—it just didn’t taste good. Eventually, the product went away and, since then, has been replaced with similar, but better, products that have proven sustainable—Mike’s Hard Lemonade, for instance, was one of the first.

But Good Isn’t Always Good Enough

In the past few years, there have been a number of new hard seltzer products entering the market—so many that it’s becoming hard for individual brands to stand out and gain market share.

That means competition. Competition can be the downfall of even good products. Why? Because other products might be better. In fact, while companies have long worked hard to gain a first-mover advantage by being first to market with a new product, many have found that not being the first mover can be a better strategy. First movers pave the way and allow later entrants to learn from what works well for them, what doesn’t, and what additional brand attributes consumers might value.

Being good isn’t always good enough—not when something emerges that is better.

But being good is a critical first step. Advertising—no matter how brilliantly conceived and masterfully executed—can never sustain a bad product over the long term.


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