Are you a ‘harbinger of failure’?

New York, Dec 28 (IANS) There have been products that turn out to be big flops. But still, these products get swept off stores quickly, leaving most consumers to wonder: Who exactly buys these things, anyway?

Amazingly, a group of consumers has an outsized tendency to purchase all kinds of failed products, time after time, flop after flop.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers call this group “harbingers of failure”.

“These harbingers of failure have the unusual property that they keep on buying products that are taken from the shelves,” said study co-author and MIT professor Catherine Tucker.

Tucker said these star-crossed consumers can sniff out flop-worthy products of all kinds.

“If you’re the kind of person who bought something that really didn’t resonate with the market, say, coffee-flavoured Coca-Cola, then that also means you’re more likely to buy a type of toothpaste or laundry detergent that fails to resonate with the market,” she explained.

But what explains such consumer behaviour?

“You could think of it as preference for risk. People who are more willing to take a risk on an unusual product are more willing to take a risk in multiple categories,” researchers said.

The researchers examined 77,744 customers who purchased 8,809 new products between 2003 and 2005, and then tracking the aggregate data longer to see how well those products fared.A

The study was published in the Journal of Marketing Research.

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