Ay Caramba! US Postal Service Overprint ‘Simpsons’ Stamps by 682 Million

The key to success of any business is to understand your customer and their needs.   Make sure to conduct a little market research to understand that the ideas you are thinking of, are in fact on the right mark.

The US Postal Service recently launched commemorative ‘Simpsons’ stamps, but seemed to print too many!  This over production was simply due to not properly understanding what their customers’ needs were.   It may be one of the most successful shows of all time, but does that mean that every American wanted a piece of it?  Perhaps not!  This blunder resulted in them throwing away $1.2 million which could have been streamlined into useful resources for their customers.

The ‘Simpsons’ stamps that cost 44-cents each, were available in 2009 and 2010, and came in five designs of each of the family members- Homer, Marge, and children – Bart, Lisa and Maggie.

One of the biggest issues was that soon after the stamps were printed, the price of stamps in general went up by 1 cent, and these almost became obsolete.  Customers didn’t want to have to buy this stamp, and then buy a 1 cent stamp, in order to meet the minimum requirements of the rate for postage.

Bloomberg notes that the USPS, drawing upon recommendations of a citizens’ advisory board, produces about 20 commemorative stamp designs each year.  So you would think they did a little more research into the matter.

There are three ways to avoid this kind of situation happening with your business:

  1. Do your market research before you launch a product – nothing worse than not knowing what your customers need or want!
  2. Make sure that the product is consistent with global changes or general company changes – When you launch your product; make sure it won’t become obsolete within days or weeks.
  3. Do some marketing – maybe you have the right product for the right price!  But people need to hear about it.  Try a social campaign, or a PR about it, or even try giving some away so it creates word of mouth!

In order to successfully deliver a product to your audience, you must do a little market research in order to see if your product strategy is beneficial for you and your end-user. The USPS, for example, would improve this Simpson setback if they would first test the market in its initial production and print more as demand went up for it. Understanding the full spectrum of your market and business while remaining aware of customer challenges and needs would have saved the USPC from this setback, and will save you from potential customer service failure.

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