Each year Wall St identifies 10 important brands sold in America that we predict will disappear before the next year is out. Looking back on last year's list
, we made some good calls and missed a few. Suzuki, MetroPCS and Current TV are all gone in the United States. American Airlines combined with U.S. Airways, though the American name lives on. Research In Motion is no longer a brand, having been renamed BlackBerry. We bungled our predictions regarding Avon, the Oakland Raiders and Salon.
This year's list reflects the brutally competitive nature of certain industries and the importance of not falling behind in efficiency, innovation or financing. The list also reflects how industry trends can accelerate the demise of certain brands. This year, we included two magazines -- Martha Stewart Living and Road & Track. Print advertising is in a multi-year decline, but some magazines have fared worse than others. These two have suffered sharp drops in advertising revenue over the past five years. Magazines also carry the heavy legacy costs of printing, paper and distribution, a problem not shared by online-only competition.
In the world of consumer electronics, Barnes & Noble's Nook, for example, competes with better-selling products made by larger companies -- Apple and Amazon -- and is also in the e-reader business, a shrinking industry. Ditto for the Olympus digital camera, now that camera sales, especially point-and-shoot models, have been eroded by smartphones.
A third industry with two brands on our list is automobiles. Car sales are growing in the United States, but brands with market shares under half a percent cannot compete with companies that produce high-luxury models, like Mercedes-Benz, or multiline giants like General Motors. Suzuki pulled out of the American market last year; Mitsubishi and Volvo will follow soon.
We continue to use the same methodology in deciding which brands will disappear. The major criteria include:
- Declining sales and losses;
- Disclosures by the parent of the brand that it might go out of business;
- Rising costs that are unlikely to be recouped through higher prices;
- Companies that are sold;
- Companies that go into bankruptcy;
- Companies that have lost the great majority of their customers; and
- Operations with withering market share.
Click through the gallery to see the 10 brands that will disappear in 2014.