Have you developed an innovative technology and are wondering why its market success is lagging behind expectations? You are not alone. According to estimates, more than 50 % of market launches of innovative technologies fail in Germany. This raises the legitimate question of why this is the case. Are Germans particularly critical of innovations or are the innovations in question particularly bad? Neither.

Reasons for the failure of innovations

There are many reasons for the failure of new products and innovative solutions, so the following are just a few examples.

#1 Unfavourable timing

In most cases, the wrong timing is the decisive reason for the failure of the market launch of innovative technologies. This can take two different forms.

Type 1: The market is not yet ready for the innovation. For example, because there are not (yet) any useful complementary products that maximise the benefits of the innovation, promote its use or expand the field of application. Or, for example, because the way the technology is used or the technology concept differs significantly from (learnt) application patterns of market participants. The acceptance of smartphones would certainly have been lower if apps had not been developed at the same time or if the topic of "mobile phones/mobile communications" had not yet been generally known and widespread.

Type 2: The market is too late for innovation. This is clearly shown by the lack of a USP, i.e. the lack of added value, when there are already technological alternative solutions on the market.

#2 False assumptions

In practice, it is often the case that seemingly logical assumptions are made when developing and marketing a new product, but these are never validated and ultimately turn out to be wrong.


Real-life example of "false assumptions"

Worth mentioning in this context is the development of a new type of analyser which, in addition to innovative functionality, also included an oversized display compared to market solutions to make it easier to use. Despite this, the analyser was initially a slow seller. The obvious added value of the larger display at first glance did not materialise in reality, as the analyser did not fit into the racks used in the laboratory due to the oversized display.



Other false assumptions include, for example, the view that the innovation can be marketed without great effort due to the subjectively perceived level of innovation. In reality, however, target groups need to be educated, particularly in the case of innovations, which usually means increased effort.

#3 Poor product protection

A third, widespread and exemplary reason for the failure of market launches is the inadequate product protection of innovations. Very often, the companies that have introduced an innovation to the market for the first time are not necessarily the main beneficiaries. Product protection is often not limited to patents and utility models, which are usually already considered during development. In the case of start-ups and SMEs in particular, the question arises as to the extent to which (perfectly justified) protection interests can be enforced in court in the event of an infringement.

Rather, the issue of inadequate product protection relates to extended product protection, which is often forgotten, for example through exclusive agreements with suppliers of important components or with important sales partners. Another example is the establishment of lock-in effects or switching costs due to incompatibility with other products: Products can be designed in the sense of extended product protection so that extensions are only possible by the supplier.


Innovations require a different marketing approach

The above examples illustrate that many market launches, especially of highly innovative technologies, can fail. This suggests that (disruptive) innovations require a completely different marketing approach than product enhancements or incremental innovations that build on each other step by step. A well thought-out go-to-market plan takes this into account during the market launch:


The main differences concern:
  • The comprehensive information and education (training) of customers
  • The importance of establishing a feedback channel in marketing
  • The possibility of using existing sales organisations, approaches and structures
  • The resources required for the market launch
  • The relevance of price in the market launch

Success factors for the market launch

In order to promote the probability of success of the market launch of an innovative technology, it is advisable to consider the following aspects, among others:

  1. Timely involvement of customers and users

The early involvement of pilot customers, pilot users and initial stakeholders is crucial. This not only validates assumptions, but also trains the market in the product. This prevents the market's needs from being ignored during the 12 to 24-month (or even longer) development period. It also allows not only technical features but also intended business and revenue models to be tested.

  1. Involving experts with sufficient capacities

It is also advisable to involve experts in order to avoid false assumptions and errors during the market launch. These can be technical experts, lead users or thematic experts (e.g. market experts, experts for regulations and property rights, marketing experts, etc.). Nothing cannibalises the wow effect of an innovation at market launch more than a marketing strategy and communication that is either too short or wrongly conceived due to a lack of resources.

  1. Product protection taken further

Especially when dealing with stakeholders such as suppliers of complementary products, it makes sense for both sides to negotiate the establishment of exclusive interfaces. Arranging exclusive partnerships with suppliers of critical components and sales partners in important markets can also be advisable, even if this initially means financial losses or time constraints. It is also worth examining the extent to which added value can be created in your own product cosmos through exclusive compatibility of products.

Are you about to launch an innovation on the market and want to avoid mistakes? Contact us for a free initial consultation.


Text: Benjamin Raab


Benjamin Raab

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Benjamin Raab

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I am holding a Master's degree in "Entrepreneurship" from the University of Liechtenstein and a Bachelor's degree in "Corporate Management & Economics" from Zeppelin University Friedrichshafen. Since 2014 as an innovation consultant at EurA AG, myself and my department have been supporting companies in the market launch and distribution of innovative products and services, in the identification and development of new business areas and in the development of profitable business models since 2020. To this end, I also acquire international funding and maintain contact with large companies as part of the technology scouting service. In addition, me and my department are responsible for preparing market and competition analyses and technology studies, and provides strategic advice to innovative companies on spin-offs and growth strategies.

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