Doesn’t it seem that just when you find a product you really like; the next thing you know it has been discontinued? Sometimes it’s something you’ve been using for years that mysteriously disappears from store shelves. Either way it can be frustrating re-starting the process of finding that ideal product, whether it’s your favorite pair of jeans, favorite food, favorite shade of lipstick, favorite perfume, or favorite shoes.
I can understand why companies would remove a relatively new product if sales don’t meet expectations, but when it’s a tried and true item that’s been around for years and is a popular seller, it’s not quite as easy to fathom.
Even when a product is successful, manufacturers can’t help but decide they know best and come out with an “improved” version at some point in time. Sometimes the new edition works, and other times, it doesn’t. Some of the most popular brand names have had to revert to their “classic” counterparts as the new and improved product just did not impress loyal customers.
Based on a recent internet search, my favorite New Balance walking shoes (trainers/sneakers) appear to have fallen on the chopping block. These weren’t an in-one-day-out-the-next phenomenon – I’ve lost track of the number of years I’ve been wearing this particular model. It was nice to just order a pair online without having to test drive them in the store. New shoes are difficult to buy without a trial run, at least for me. I need to try them on, walk around a little, make sure I can wear them more than five minutes without discomfort. Once I know a certain shoe fits well and is comfortable, I can order additional pairs online in other colors or new ones when they wear out, but the first time really requires in-person fitting. Some stores do offer free outbound and return shipping, but it can be extraordinarily time consuming trying to return something, especially if you aren’t quite sure what you want, or need to try several different styles, brands, or sizes.
It’s not just the hassle of finding a replacement product – sometimes the product disappears entirely. When this happens, it can take with it some very strong rooted memories. Take for instance the Wisconsin Candy Raisin. When NECCO bought Stark Candy Company in 2008 they discontinued this beloved treat. A huge uproar ensued including a grass roots effort to reinstate the confection by current and ex-Wisconsinites (myself included), to no avail. An entire sub-generation of baby boomers went into deep mourning at the loss of what can be likened to a childhood friend. From what I’ve read, the new company also refuses to divulge the recipe. How cruel is that? Even though one company decides it’s not economical to produce the product, why not sell the recipe to a niche company willing to do so if the demand exists? Are they afraid their decision might be proven wrong?
These merely represent a sampling of the disconnect between corporations and consumers.