The Week: Best of the blogs - Beating consumer habits

Think of all the amazing new products that have been introduced in the past few years.

In the digital realm alone, there have been thousands. Every day I stumble on new offerings on the web that I had no idea existed, and that amaze me with their utility and creativity. The startling fact, however, is how few of them become successful.

The reason so many new products and new ideas fail is a function of human psychology - the reluctance of consumers to do something new and different.

Marketers always overestimate the attractiveness of new things and always underestimate the power of traditional consumer behaviour.

I have been involved in the development of many new products and a lot of ad campaigns for new products. Almost every one I've been associated with has been either a reasonably good idea or an improvement on what went before. But most weren't compelling enough to overcome consumer attachment to doing what they always do.

One of the biggest mistakes a marketer can make is taking too seriously what consumers say about a product in the development stage. When consumers are exposed to it, they'll tell you it's a good idea. But what they can never tell you is whether it's a good enough idea to eclipse the inertia of their habits. The most powerful force in marketing is not price, quality, distribution, advertising or branding - it's the resistance to change.