A failed product launch - whether from an established company or from a startup - is worth analyzing, to be sure. And one of the key take-aways from the Kin debacle is certainly to pay attention to your target audience. Aimed at a teenage audience, the Kin device was soundly rejected by that market.
And as the teen market is estimated to hit $200 billion in 2011, it's not a good one to ignore or alienate.
Listening to Your Target Market
In a guest post in the Seattle-based TechFlash, 17-year-old Nancy Xiao itemizes her list of why the Kin failed to attract her and her peers. She liked the packaging and the music and radio integration. But she didn't feel it was sufficiently customizable, she didn't think it was sufficiently functional, and - worst of all - "I would by no means want to be caught with that not-so-appealing-egg-shaped thing in my pocket."
The lengths to which Microsoft went to test the Kin with a teenage audience aren't known. But if Xiao's feelings are representative of her age group, teens did not feel as though the product that was supposedly built with them in mind really was, in fact, built with them in mind.
The Value of Youthsourcing
Snubbing your potential consumers is never a good idea, but in the case of the youth market, even less so. In a post called "Never Too Old to Start Youthsourcing," Jason Bakker argues that "Co-creating with youth is important because today's youth expect to be heard, and the brand that gives them a voice wins."
According to Bakker, "youthsourcing" can be beneficial to businesses as it captures "the power of your most passionate young fans by putting them in the driver's seat when your company is facing a challenge or has a specific problem to solve."
For startups, harnessing these "passionate young fans" grants access to an important and growing consumer sector. But winning their favor also helps makes sure they care enough to make sure your product is successful and that it lasts.