People Explain Which Products Failed Simply Because People Weren't Smart Enough To Understand Them

I can't figure this out.

It is a proven fact that human beings are not the brightest species on the planet. Actually, we're further down the 'brain-train' than most people would want to believe. Which is why there are so many consumer inventions that were so promising but crashed and burned. They flopped because people couldn't take the time to figure it out, or maybe as a whole, we're a little dumb. I'm still trying to figure out that damn rubik's cube, though that was a hit. Maybe that one is just me.

Redditor u/froxictic wanted to discuss a few things that we could try and put a little more brain power into by asking... What product failed because people were too dumb to understand it?

Smokey Knows Best

GIF by Smokey BearGiphy

The US National Park Service struggled for years to find a locking trash can that would be able to keep bears out. People couldn't figure them out so they wouldn't lock it back up, or litter, rendering them useless. One park ranger was quoted as saying there was considerable overlap between the dumbest people and the smartest bears.



Those chip bags that would decompose in the ground. Too noisy, they said. But I kind of feel all chip bags are noisy to some degree. That being said, we should've either poured the contents into a washable bowl or plate or something like that or just used the noise as a deterrent to prevent over-eating.


Find the Source

Nearly 50% of HDTV's in the early era were returned because people plugged in their RCA cables as the main video source.

They not only didn't understand what HD was, they thought the picture looked worse, as it was distorted on a 16:9 screen.


Do the Math!

pulp fiction burger GIF by MIRAMAXGiphy

The 1/3lb burger because people thought it was smaller than the 1/4lb one.


Bad Tickets

There was a lottery ticket scratch off that had a temperature listed on it. You would scratch off to reveal your own temperature, and if it was colder than the listed one, you win. Pretty simple, right?

It failed because people don't understand negative numbers. People called in claiming that they "won" because -6 is "colder" than -8.

It is not. The ticket was ultimately discontinued.


Mix it In

They put out instant cake mix in the 50's. You only needed to add water, but no one would buy it. I think they couldn't believe you cold make a cake with just powder and water. They discontinued it.


There was a story when I was in school that the marketing guys figured out that if you take out the powdered egg and had the end user add eggs it would sell.

They figured that as women were going into the workforce and weren't able to cook a full meal, the felt guilty about buying a complete mix. Having the end user add real eggs gave them the feeling that they were really baking and not just pouring powder out of a box.


For Cleanliness

About 15 years ago Arm & Hammer came out with a series of environmentally safe cleaning products for bath, kitchen, and glass. They worked well, smelled good, and I really liked them. The drawback for dummies was the reusability of the spray bottle. Refills came in a cartridge the size of a five hour energy shot. You filled the bottle up to the fill line with water then screwed the cartridge into the bottle which had special inner threads to open the cartridge.

The spray bottle was sold empty with a cartridge attached. The checker at the store paused when ringing me up to ask if I really wanted to pay six bucks for an empty bottle. When I bought the glass cleaner I got the same question. Nobody bought it because they didn't realize how it was packaged.


This is not playtime...

homer simpson couch gag GIFGiphy

Those little shopping carts at grocery stores for kids.

A bunch of dumb parents refused to parent their kids and they would just let them jam the carts into displays, peoples legs, other carts etc, so almost all grocery stores in our area got rid of them. They were made so kids could put their own choices into the cart and be mindful of what they choose, not babysitter bumper cars.


Can't Sip the "Cheap"

We had a guy come talk to us at my college about his experience in marketing. He mentioned that when he used to work for Campbell's (I think) they had trouble breaking into the Chinese market with their instant soup. They had just assumed that it would sell just as well there as anywhere else but apparently it was the same kind of issue as you mentioned where I guess culturally it was seen as "cheap" to just heat up some instant soup. So they rebranded and repackaged it as a dry mix that you had to actually add to boiling water and lo and behold it started selling.


The Laugh Track

Naked Gun Movie GIFGiphy

Police Squad!, made by the guys who did Airplane! and widely considered pound for pound one of the funniest TV shows that's ever aired.

But it failed because it required audiences to actually pay close attention to the quickfire gags and fast dialogue. Led to ABC's president memorably saying it was cancelled because "the viewer had to watch it in order to appreciate it."

Later it was adapted into the Naked Gun movies, which were smash successes, probably because people in theaters are locked down into the movie.


The Sound of Music

The Zune. Mayyybe a stretch but you could pay a monthly subscription ($10 if memory serves) for unlimited downloads. As long as you had the subscription, you could download anything you wanted to your device. On top of that you got 10 song credits a month you could use to buy songs to keep forever. As a music lover, I thought this was a better option than paying a buck a song from Apple for your iPod, plus I recall it being a cheaper device with more storage.

All you can eat music for $10 plus I get 10 songs a month to keep forever? Not bad. People still think I'm crazy when I bring it up. Granted, the stuff you didn't own would go away of you ever canceled the subscription, but still, it's not that different a concept from streaming platforms like Spotify.


Game Stop

The Wii U. People didn't know it was a new console and thought it was just a regular Wii, an add on to the Wii or who knows what else. A different name would have solved this entire problem. People still don't know how to distinguish Wii U games from regular Wii games, even though Wii U games will not play on a Wii console.

Marketing Geniuses take note, if you have a new product give it a different name than a slight variant on its predecessor.




Off the wall one but: Soap that doesn't sud.

A chemical needs to be added to soap in order for it to sud, and it was added so people would know that they were scrubbing enough. Now, people all expect soap to sud, so if someone puts out soap that doesn't have that chemical, people say the soap is broken.


Hairy Situations 

In 1979, Clairol rolled out their touch-of-yogurt shampoo, which they hoped would help people with oily hair. Unfortunately for them, oily-haired consumers didn't like the idea of washing their hair with yogurt. The few who did buy the shampoo thought it was edible, only to be disappointed after getting sick as a result.


Unknown Options

Steam Link (the box). People didn't seem to realize it wasn't just for games, but was a generic PC "remotifier" of screen, keyboard, mouse and possible controller.


Lights Up...

Just For Laughs Reaction GIFGiphy

Those Lytro cameras, you could take a picture completely out of focus and fix it in like 3 seconds, I found it amazing yet the company still went bankrupt.

For some reason people were more interested in these stupid things.


So many Loads...

HE clothes washers. Worked at Lowe's in appliances and people just couldn't wrap their heads around the lack of an agitator.


What is it with people and washers? I volunteer at a cat shelter and people don't know how to use the simplest models and they always breaks it.

Now we have to restrict who can use it. Doing a load of laundry shouldn't be such a problem.

I wonder how some people function in life. And it's has nothing to do with gender and age. We had a 60 year old lady who squeezed a huge cat bed in it (instead of only unzipping the fabric cover to wash it). We had to buy a new one... again.


papers please...

NJ vehicle registration expiration stickers. They were issued about 15 years ago. Idea was simple, place sticker in upper right corner of license plate. Next years sticker, place over the old one.

NJ drivers, stick the first one on correctly and subsequent stickers go anywhere on the license plate.

It was pathetic the patterns of stickers I would see. The state stopped sending them out because it clearly didn't catch on.


The Nightmare

Sega Dreamcast?


I don't think the consumers were dumb with the Dreamcast. Sega had a bit of a tarnished reputation at the time. Everything since the Genesis had been 'meh' in comparison to Nintendo (minus the Virtual Boy) and Sony. The Dreamcast was a much better system and much better marketed than anything Sega had done in a long while, and while it had some very good games, in retrospect Sega would have needed a god-tier lineup like we had never (and have yet to) seen before in order for the Dreamcast to survive past the release of the PS2.


Free... for all...

Happy Let Go GIF by Jamie N CommonsGiphy

I'd have to say freedom. Too many people strip it down to "doing whatever the hell you want", and do all kinds of stupid and destructive things and give a bad name to the concept. Then people who know what freedom really is, but don't want people to be free, use it as a pretext for taking away our freedoms.


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