The supermarket of products never sold


Every day thousands of products reach the supermarket shelves, ready to seduce us in what sociologists call the spectacle of goods. But not everyone achieves their goal (that of being bought), indeed: many products do not pass the shelf test and soon go out of production, unsold and inexorably destined for pulping. With one exception that serves to save a specimen (only one), which is sent from many parts of the world to the USA, to the NewProductWorks (NPW).

supermarkets, hypermarkets, purchases, unsold products, buying habits A glimpse of the department dedicated to NewProductWorks home cleaning products. |

Archive. Housed in an industrial park in Ann Arbor, Michigan (USA), and conceived as a real supermarket, the NPW is the world's most complete assortment of food products and household items - more than 140, 000 - where also the failures and products of the short life find space.

Goods not for sale, but collected and organized for the sole purpose of creating a historical archive of consumer behavior.

To learn from mistakes. The NPW is in fact a market research company that has specialized in product launches since the 1930s. His store / archive shelves contain everything from candy to hair gel and peanut butter jars.

advertising Curiosity: the mechanisms that drive us to buy. | JOHN LLOYD / Flickr

There is only one article for each product, and for the experts it is more than enough: every day, marketing managers of various companies go there on pilgrimage to learn from the mistakes of their competitors. They wander in small groups among the corridors of the ghost supermarket to collect ideas, including modern packaging or products that date back to the 1970s.

"Visitors take a step back in time in the jungle of American consumerism, which tells the story of our culture, " says Marilyn Raymond, vice president of GfK Global, the company that manages the initiative.

The psyche of consumption. The show of products on the shelves is a real mirror of the psyche of American consumption. There are products that have not even had time to cross the oceans: from the shampoo for oily hair, defeated by the self-esteem of the buyers who would never have admitted such greasiness, to the antiviral Kleenex, which had the misfortune of being thrown prematurely, in 1984, when the health craze was only in its infancy (today perhaps it would be otherwise).

design, packaging Curiosity: small strokes of genius of designers. | Nikita Konkin

And so on, up to the homogenized for adults, probably discouraged by the fact that in the brand there was the word "singles": a sad scene for an adult to be alone, to eat homogenized food (and we know that advertising sells dreams ).

A matter of design. But there are not only failures: among the 140, 000 items on display there are also success stories that can inspire and, above all, so many intelligent packaging, because a different way of presenting the usual product often turns out to be a winner. Collecting items from all over the world, the NewProductWorks supermarket is also one of the most incredible industrial design collections ever seen.