A dog food company found their product wasn't selling. The president of the company brought in a high-priced consultant to find out why. The consultant spent a lot of time looking over sales records, examining production facilities, checking on art and marketing departments, and all the other components that comprised the supply chain.
After several weeks the consultant came back to the president with a plan. It involved redesigning the packaging, offering coupons and free samples, negotiating better shelf position with major retailers, and all the other typical marketing solutions you would expect from a high priced consultant.
When all the changes were implemented, at considerable cost, the dog food still wasn't selling. The president of the company brought in another person, this time a high-priced marketing analyst to go over all the sales statistics, marketing programs, and other information they had. After several weeks the analyst came back with a definitive answer, the dog food certainly wasn't selling.
At the company's next sales and marketing meeting the president of the company met with his department managers and they spent an hour brainstorming and kicking around ideas that might improve sales. They couldn't come up with anything that hadn't already been suggested by the consultant or explored by the analyst. The meeting adjourned with no new ideas.
Completely frustrated the president of the company decided to go down to his local grocery store and see what was happening. When he got there he found his company's product, featuring the flashy new packaging that had recently been developed, was prominently displayed in the best spot along the shelves. It was price competitively and there was even a small rack of coupons right there by the product display, making his product an even better buy than any of the competition.
The president of the company watched from the end of the aisle as first one, then another, then several people came along and picked up one competitive product after another, but never even pausing to look at his company's product.
Finally the president of the company spoke up to one of the shoppers who had just placed a large bag of a competitor's product into his shopping cart, "Excuse me, sir, this dog food here," he gestured to his company's product, "is made by my company and I just wondered why you didn't even look at it when choosing which dog food to purchase?"
The shopper, not having expected anyone to speak to him, paused a second in surprise before answering. After a moment he looked up and said, "Oh, I purchased your dog food once but my dog just didn't like it."