Robert McMath – a marketing professional – intended to accumulate a reference library of consumer products.

The course of action was: Starting in the 1960s he started to purchase and preserve a sample of every new item he could find. The collection soon outgrew his office and he moved it into a converted granary, where it continued to grow rapidly.

The result was: What McMath did not take into account was that most products fail – so that his collection was overwhelmingly made up of products that did not survive the test of the marketplace.

The lesson was: The insight that ‘most products fail’ proved to be the making of McMath’s career. The collection itself – now owned and operated by GfK Custom Research North America – is now regularly visited by consumer product manufacturing executives eager to avoid mistakes they or their competitors have made in the past.

Source: The Guardian, 16 June 2012