What distinguishes a high learning product from a product with a quick take up and a short shelf-life? Is there a secret to a product’s success that can be applied universally to all product/service launches?
In this question you should list all the reasons beginning with an obvious one, pure ‘luck’.
But apart from that, factors such as whether the product is part of (or benefits from) network externalities is a big reason why two otherwise identical products (or even an inferior product) can have such divergent product life cycle profiles.
The early mover in a network industry can gain huge advantages by setting the standard that others have to follow. Not every product is subject to network externalities and students would have to make that clear. A network good is one in which the benefits to the user of buying are greater the more people that have already bought or use the product or service.
Also in addition to network effects there are often ‘informational cascades’ that can form, in which an early, well trusted and highly regarded person or group of individuals adopts one technology/product over another. This then becomes the de facto choice for second-movers and followers into the market.
This happens quite often with ‘stocks’ and the stock market is replete with market watchers who hang on every word that industry leaders such as Warren Buffet have to say or do. The industry also producers lots of expert opinion, in the form of Wall Street Journal reports and columns, which are also followed and hence may determine the
success of a firm’s financial portfolio over an otherwise very similar firm that hasn’t been profiled.
The marketing industry has developed a number of strategies based on this idea of ‘informational cascades’, such as celebrity product endorsements (Nike has used Michael Jordan and now Tiger Woods as emblems of sport success). Top-10 lists also act as a signal of what is ‘good’ and hence what ‘you should’ buy.