In some cases, a luxury product that's been in planning stages for years is set to launch just as a major recession is starting. This was the case with the Ford Edsel. The Edsel has become synonymous with failure, and it is well known as a marketing catastrophe, but the 1958 recession certainly played a large part in its undoing.
Sometimes a product is just "ahead of its time," and the market for it just doesn't exist, like the precursor to popular PDA devices, the Apple Newton MessagePad. This kinda-clunky PDA had a few shortcomings - most famously, its inability to live up to the claim of understanding handwriting - but more than that was its release at a time when paying $700US for a PDA seemed absurd.
Today, if there was a PDA that came out and revolutionized the industry, $700 would seem like a bargain. (The time will come when you'll be the one explaining these obsolete technologies. Learn more in Technology Your Kids (Or Grandkids) Will Laugh At.)
Not Living Up To The Hype
There's nothing worse than when the public feels like they're being tricked. This happens when something has hyped-up marketing, but the product is pretty ho-hum. It's another reason why the Edsel failed, as Ford had positioned it as a cutting-edge new automobile, but the public saw it as more of the same for a higher cost. This poor positioning cost Ford $350 million, a huge sum in 1959.
McDonald's also fell prey to this with the release of the Arch Deluxe menu in the '90s. No one was fooled when Mickey-D's claimed to have moved into the fine dining racket just by slapping a tomato on top of a burger. McDonald's reportedly spent $100 million on...