Anatomy of a Marketing Failure

Failure, in one form or another, is a part of student life and here at the Asian Institute of Management , failure does not only happen inside the caserooms.

A few weeks ago, I launched a project that aimed to produce and sell shirts for my MBA class. (I blogged about it twice-- one is an introduction of the MBA Dec 2008 shirt , another one is a reminder ). After weeks of weak demand, I decided to pull the plug on the project two days ago.

I reflected on this setback for the last couple of days and I have come to the conclusion that the shirt project I launched failed on the four P's of marketing: Product, Promotion, Price and Place. Here's my brief analysis:


Based on the suppliers, I had three products to choose from: jacket, t-shirt and golf shirt. I decided on what product to produce and sell based on market research (an online survey of the class) and what emerged was that the majority wanted a golf shirt in blue or black colors and they were willing to pay PhP 500.00 for the shirt.

In retrospect, my market research was not enough. My sampling seemed to have been not representative (33%) and my decision to go for the best material from the supplier, which was based on the strategy to come up with the best quality product, now seems an iffy one. 

Was this a case of "failure by market research"? It could be.


I promoted the product purely online, with an email blast, plus the blog posts. Looking back, I failed to communicate what the batch shirt was all about-- school pride and, perhaps, nostalgia. I wasn't able to come up with solid positioning to my target market (which is the whole MBA class), and I focused more on putting the pictures of the shirt on models, which is more inclined towards a value proposition of fashion and self-esteem.


Like I've mentioned in the Product section earlier, the price was based on the market research and it actually drove me to go for the high-end product of the shirt supplier. However, as I offering the shirt to several of my classmates, I got feedback that they weren't really impressed by the shirt's make. I could have taken the comment in stride but it occurred to me that this matter was something I may have overlooked. 

Was the PhP 525.00 right for a batch shirt? I really thought so, but many seemed to have disagreed.


I had the help of Ms. Amy from the MBA program staff to store the sample shirts. My classmates had to basically go to her office in the second floor to see different styles and try on the various sizes of the shirt. I soon realized that it was rather inconvenient for the buyers to do go through that process, so I set-up shop in one of the tables in the Zen Garden. 

I was able to get orders while in that place, but due to the bad weather lately, I soon figured it was not a sustainable location. There was some feedback to place the shirts in the dorm, but since I'm not staying the students dormitory and I was only a one-man-wrecking-crew, it was not a feasible option.

One final factor that made me stop this venture is time-- I needed to devote more time on more important things, like my MRR and a few other initiatives. If I were to get more people to order shirts, I needed to put in more effort and time, and those things are always a rare commodity in business school.

Failure is really a harsh teacher and my experience with this failed venture has more or less grounded me a bit.  But I'll definitely bounce back from this, I'm sure of it.


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