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All told, the researchers ended up examining 77, customers who purchased 8, new products between and , and then tracking the aggregate data longer to see how well those products fared.

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They defined a failed product as one pulled from stores less than three years after its introduction; only about 40 percent of the new products survived that long. In a key part of the study, the researchers studied consumers whose purchases flop at least 50 percent of the time, and saw pronounced effects when these harbingers of failure buy products.

When the percentage of total sales of a product accounted for by these consumers increases from 25 to 50 percent, the probability of success for that product decreases by 31 percent.

Are you satisfied with the result?

The researchers also examined and ruled out other possible explanations of the phenomenon. For instance: The harbingers are not evidently any more tired or distracted than anyone else when choosing products. Systematically, they are able to identify these really terrible products that fail to resonate with the mainstream. Other scholars in the field say the study has fresh insights and is methodologically solid.


Van den Bulte adds that the study opens up a series of future research issues, including how much the phenomenon applies to other product categories and how to further explain what guides the actions of these hapless consumers. Can you distinguish between products that failed on technical merit didn't function or broke and those that failed because of mismatch with their intended markets? Wall Street Journal reporter Brenda Cronin writes that MIT researchers have identified a group of consumers that routinely buy products that fail.

Duncan Simester.

Harbinger transposons and an ancient HARBI1 gene derived from a transposase.

Catherine Tucker. MIT researchers have found that certain consumers are more prone to buying products that end up failing, reports Peter Coy for Bloomberg Business. MIT News Office. Browse or. Browse Most Popular.

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Harbinger 2017

No one should count any eggs before they hatch here. The movies need to actually get made—and they have to be good. Most importantly, they need to be successful.

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Not even close. Maybe it kicks it all off.

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The A. Germain Lussier. Moritz Eric heisserer Joshua Beirne-Golden.

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