All-Time Biggest Product Flops (Crystal Pepsi, Anyone?)

Photo (cc) by Royal Opera House Covent Garden

Not every product that reaches the marketplace is a hit with consumers. In fact, some of the most wildly successful companies have had some of the most epic product failures.

24/7 Wall St. compiled a list of some of the biggest product flops of all time.

The larger the company, the greater its capacity for taking risks. While pouring millions of dollars into market research and advertising campaigns can lead to tremendous successes, such ventures can also be a formula for the most miserable failures.

24/7 Wall St. highlighted 12 of the biggest product duds. Here are our favorites:

  • Ford Edsel. Released in 1957, Ford’s attempt at a high-end, midsized vehicle was an epic failure. It was expensive for consumers and loaded with heavily promoted, but unreliable, new features. The car cost Ford $350 million ($2.9 billion in today’s dollars). Sadly, only 84,000 Edsels were sold in its three years of production, CBS noted.
  • Crystal Pepsi. Pepsi launched Crystal Pepsi in 1992. The caffeine-free, clear beverage, which was marketed as “healthy and pure” had a good first year, with sales topping $470 million, but its popularity was short-lived. “Not only were consumers not convinced by Pepsi’s health angle, but also many cola-drinkers expected a darker beverage,” 24/7 Wall St. said.
  • Google Glass. Released in 2011, Google Glass was an experimental wearable computer prototype tested by several thousand users, who each paid $1,500 to test the glasses. It received a lot of hype, but didn’t take long for users to report software glitches and privacy concerns. “Glass was immediately banned from movie theaters, casinos, and bars, for example, to prevent customers from making recordings,” 24/7 Wall St. said. It was discontinued this January.
  • WOW! chips. PepsiCo subsidiary Frito-Lay released WOW! Chips in 1998. The chips contained olestra, a fat substitute, so they had less fat and calories than regular chips. More than $347 million in WOW! chips were sold in 1998, making it the best-selling potato chip brand that year, 24/7 Wall St. said. Unfortunately, olestra had some nasty side effects, including diarrhea, incontinence and cramping. Yuck. Not surprisingly, the chips quickly lost their appeal.
  • Zune. Microsoft released the Zune in 2006 to compete with Apple’s popular iPod. The Zune proved to be no match for the iPod. That, coupled with its performance issues, led to Zune’s failure. Microsoft lost more than $3 billion as a result, 24/7 Wall St. said.

In order to make 24/7 Wall St.’s list, the product had to be introduced after 1950 by a company that made the Fortune 500 the year it was released.

I loved Crystal Pepsi as a kid. And I own a Zune, albeit one that’s been collecting dust for several years.

Do you remember any of these product flops? What are some other products that were epic failures? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles
5 Keys to Making Your Car Last for 200,000 Miles

Pushing your car to 200,000 miles — and beyond — can save you piles of cash. Here’s how to get there.

7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead
7 Small Appliances You Don’t Need — and What to Use Instead

Here’s how to get the job done without blowing money — or losing counter space.

9 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Home
9 Genius Storage Solutions for Your Home

These creative products on Amazon will hide unsightly clutter while saving space.

5 Ways Retirees Can Lower Their Income Taxes
5 Ways Retirees Can Lower Their Income Taxes

Here’s how to keep Uncle Sam’s mitts away from your nest egg.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership
How to Buy Gas At Costco Without a Membership

The warehouse club often has some of the cheapest gas in town. Here’s how you can get it as a nonmember.

10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home
10 Things to Stop Buying If You Want a Clutter-Free Home

If you like to keep things simple, avoid these purchases.

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

Vacuums from this brand can last a half-century, if not longer — and they’re hot on the resale market.

A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today
A Simple Way to Silence Robocalls Today

A few steps can keep your phone from ringing when a spammer calls.

This Company Makes the Best Tires in America
This Company Makes the Best Tires in America

Driver satisfaction with tires is at an all-time high, but one brand stands out.

Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?
Can I Switch to Spousal Social Security Benefits When My Ex Dies?

Knowing when to claim can help you maximize benefits.

36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon
36 Things That Will Be Obsolete Soon

The writing is on the wall for dozens of things we have grown up with.

This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance
This Health Issue Can Hint at Dementia Years in Advance

One type of pain is especially associated with cognitive decline.

8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon
8 Things You Should Always Buy on Amazon

The giant retailer shines when it comes to these things, from basics to hard-to-find specialty goods.

Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs
Medicare Will Not Cover These 6 Medical Costs

Don’t let these health care expenses catch you off guard in retirement.

8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners
8 Federal Income Tax Breaks for Homeowners

Some of these deductions and credits are available to a wide swath of homeowners.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food
5 Ways to Fill Your Pantry With Free Food

Anyone can take advantage of these resources.

10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable
10 Types of Retirement Income That Are Not Taxable

There are lots of things Uncle Sam can’t touch — so long as you play by the rules.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home
6 Reasons You Should Stop Hiding Cash at Home

Stashing money around the house is anything but harmless.

5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic
5 Products You Should Never Buy Generic

Sometimes the brand-name version is clearly superior.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.