Five Stages of Marketing “Grief”

I have often referred to the psychologist’s five stages of grief when I have been helping companies understand what might be going wrong with their new product or program launch.

The TLC Group in Dallas has an interesting article on applying the grief stages to other traumatic life events, including an amusing and informative example of dealing with a dead car battery.

With thanks to them, I will apply the same model what I have seen in many companies.

  1. Denial What is the first thing you hear? “The reports must be wrong!” Or “the reporting is missing the real data.”

  2. Anger Once this reality sets in, many companies blame the sales force or channels for failing to get the story out. Or they blame the customers for being stupid. It is usually someone else’s fault.

  3. Bargaining — This can consist of begging the channels or sales force to give it one more shot. Or can involve begging management for more advertising money or more time for the product or program to just catch on.

  4. Depression — In the corporate world, many start to worry about their jobs and look for transfers out of the department. This can be a harsh reality for many people.

  5. Acceptance — OK, so the product or program is a dud. Let’s either shut it down or reinvent it based on what is working well.

In my view, successful companies move through all these stages but do it quickly. They want to give new products and programs a fighting chance, and they also want to stop the bad ones as early as possible.

What about your products and services? What stage are you in?