There are a lot of products that have been successful over the years, but what makes them so popular? Why do some products sell millions or even billions of units, while others struggle to make it off the shelves?
Here are the 20 best-selling products of all time and try to find out what made them so successful.
20. Grand Theft Auto V
The cult classic video game series Grand Theft Auto has always been a big seller, but the fifth installment, GTA V, took things to a whole new level. Released in 2013, GTA V became an instant hit as past generations of gamers and a new generation of gamers rushed to get their hands on the game. GTA V has become one of the most successful entertainment products of all time.
How many units were sold: 90 million copies
The reason why so many copies sold was that it was one of, if not the, most anticipated video games in recent memory. It also helped that the game was incredibly well-reviewed and lived up to the hype.
How much it sold: Over $6 billion With additional add-on features and buyable in-game content, GTA V has generated a staggering amount of revenue.
Why the product was so popular: As online streaming and gaming services continue to grow in popularity, it is clear that people are willing to spend a lot of money on entertainment. GTA V was the perfect storm of being a great game that was released at the right time.
Games are much more fun with friends and the online multiplayer mode of GTA V allowed gamers to team up and tackle missions together. The game also has a very active modding community, which keeps the game fresh years after its release
19. Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey
The icon that is Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey has been around for nearly 150 years and it doesn't look like its popularity is slowing down anytime soon. This is because Jack Daniels is one of the most versatile and mixable liquors on the market.
How many units were sold: Over 12 million 9-liter cases (2020)
As a well-known brand, Jack Daniels is always a popular choice for gifts and celebrations. They are also mentioned throughout pop culture, in songs, movies, and TV shows
How much it sold: $2 billion
Jack Daniels is a product that people are constantly buying because it's consumable. They also offer a wide range of products, from their signature whiskey to liqueurs and gift sets. It has a strong alcoholic taste but that further amplifies its marketing. They are fairly priced and have repeat customers.
Why the product was so popular: Jack Daniels is a classic American brand that has been around for generations. It has become a lifestyle brand and pride for many Americans. The company also does a great job of marketing its products and keeping them relevant.
The Barbie doll has been around for over 60 years and is one of the most popular toys for girls all over the world. It's a toy that has been known for its beauty, fashion, and ability to inspire young girls.
How many units were sold: 58 million sold annually (2020)
Barbie is the go-to gift idea for many parents looking to buy a toy for their daughter. It is also one of the most popular toys during the holiday season. By allowing little girls to play dress-up, Barbie helps them develop their imaginations and creativity.
How much it sold: $1.35 billion worth of Barbie dolls and accessories.
As you can see, accessories and add-on features are a big part of Barbie's appeal. Girls can buy clothes, shoes, and other accessories to make their Barbie dolls look just like them. Plus these little dolls often require friends, so parents are buying multiple Barbies at a time.
Why the product was so popular: The reason why Barbie is so popular is that it's a toy that girls can relate to. It helps them develop their sense of style and fashion. Barbie also allows girls to use their imaginations and play out different scenarios.
Beloved by Warren Buffett, Coca-Cola is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Coca-Cola was originally intended as a medicinal drink, but it quickly became popular as a soft drink. Today, Coca-Cola is sold internationally and is one of the most valuable brands in the world.
How many units were sold: 30.3 billion unit cases (2019)
Coca-Cola is one of the most popular drinks because it's affordable and refreshing. It's also widely available, so people can buy it almost anywhere. It's become the default drink for many people and is often seen as a symbol of American culture. As with other consumables, repeat customers are a big part of Coca-Cola's success.
How much it sold: $5.6 billion (2021)
Why the product was so popular: Coca-Cola has a long history and is one of the most iconic brands in the world. With sponsorships and marketing, Coca-Cola has managed to keep its products relevant and in the public eye. It's also a very affordable drink, which makes it easy for vendors to offer which further promotes its brand.
16. Crayola Crayons
Drawing, writing, playing - there's hardly anything that Crayola crayons can't do when it comes to preschool imagination and learning. These wax sticks have been around for decades and have become a popular brand.
How many units were sold: 3 billion crayons annually are made, which means that Crayola sells a close number to that.
How much it sold: Unknown. But one can assume that since each box of 24 crayons costs around $5 - Crayola probably generates close to $600 million in revenue from crayon sales alone.
Why the product was so popular: Nostalgia might play a part in the popularity of Crayola crayons, but there's no denying that they're also popular because they're affordable and easy to find.
Crayola crayons are a staple in many schools and homes, making them a go-to choice for parents and teachers. They're also non-toxic and safe for children to use, which is another important factor in their popularity.
15. Harley-Davidson Motorcycles
Another American icon, Harley-Davidson is the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are known for their power and design, which has made them a popular choice for many riders.
How many units were sold: 103,650 In America (2020) America is by far their biggest market and it has sold this many because Harley-Davidson has a very loyal customer base.
How much it sold: $4.1 million
As another lifestyle brand, similarly to Jack Daniels, Harley-Davidson also offers a lot of merchandise and add-ons to their motorcycles. This helps them increase their revenue per customer.
Why the product was so popular: It's a statement about who you are. Harley-Davidson motorcycles are seen as a symbol of freedom and rebellion. They're also very well-made and offer a great riding experience. For many people, owning a Harley-Davidson is a dream come true. To be cool, stylish, and rebel all at once - that's the appeal of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
14. Monster Energy Drinks
Known for their adrenaline-pumping flavors and edgy branding, Monster Energy drinks have become a popular choice for many people. Monster Energy drinks are often used as a pick-me-up or pre-workout drink, as they're known to provide a boost of energy.
How many units were sold: 263 million cases (2020)
Much like Coca-Cola, Monster Energy also sells its products in a variety of ways. This includes cans, bottles, and energy shots. They are available in many convenient stores and gas stations. Repeat customers are a big part of Monster Energy's success. The addictiveness of the sugar content per can has also been criticized, but it might just be partially responsible for its success.
How much it sold: $2.1 billion
As a brand name with multiple flavors, Monster Energy has become a go-to choice for many people. The company has also done a great job with its branding and can be found in multiple countries.
Why the product was so popular: They sponsor a lot of extreme sports athletes and events. This helps them appeal as an exciting and edgy brand. They're also known to be very effective at providing a boost of energy, which makes them popular among people who need an extra rush of adrenaline to get them through their day.
One of the most popular cigarette brands in the world, Marlboro has been around for over a century. Marlboro cigarettes are known for their smooth taste and strong flavor. Tobacco smoking has been in decline in recent years, but back in the day, Marlboro was one of the most popular products around. Most people smoked and Marlboro was the go-to brand to puff on.
How many units were sold: 233 billion (2019)
Cigarettes are addictive and it shows in the number of sales that Marlboro has had over the years. It's a consumption-based product, meaning that people will keep buying it as long as they continue to smoke. And breaking the habit is not easy.
How much it sold: $18.7 billion
The amount of money that Marlboro has generated is a testament to the addictive nature of cigarettes. It's also a reflection of how popular smoking was at one point. However, the branding and marketing were also very strong, which helped Marlboro become one of the most recognizable brands in the world.
Why the product was so popular: By using women in their ads and making smoking seem glamorous, Marlboro was able to appeal to a wide audience and become one of the most popular cigarette brands. Smoking was seen as cool back then and Marlboro made every effort to make their cigarettes seem like the best option.
12. Windows 7 Operating System
If you’re a fan of Microsoft products, then it should come as no surprise that their operating system makes this list of best-selling products. Microsoft released Windows 7 in 2009. This operating system was designed to be the best option at the time.
How many units were sold: More than 90 million licenses.
By licensing Windows to computer manufacturers, Microsoft was able to sell many copies. This made this operating system the go-to choice for many people.
How much it sold: Unknown. However, with 90 million licenses and an average cost of $50, it would be around 450 million.
Why the product was so popular: This was a time when Microsoft products were very popular. The company had a monopoly on the operating system market. This made Windows the obvious choice for most computer users.
11. Volkswagen Beetle
With 23.5 million in sales, the Volkswagen Beetle was one of the best-selling cars of the 20th century. It was popular for its affordability and style. Its unique look served as a way to market itself. From its humble beginnings as a "people's car" it became an international icon.
How many units were sold: 23.5 million
How much it sold: Approx. $787,500,000,000 over the course of the car’s production
Why the product was so popular: Cars were seen as a luxury when they first came out and the Volkswagen Beetle was one of the first cars to be affordable for the masses. As the industrial age progressed, and the desire for globalization increased, the car became a symbol of freedom. It was one of the first cars to be marketed globally and its style was unique compared to other cars on the market.
10. Sex by Madonna
Madonna is one of the most popular singers of all time. And her 1992 book, Sex, was a best-seller. In the 90s, Madonna was known for being controversial. And her book followed suit.
How many units were sold: 1.5 million copies
Whether it be to read her thoughts on sex or simply see the nude photos, people were interested in reading Madonna’s book.
How much it sold: $50 per book which means approx. $75 million.
That's a lot of money for a book. Madonna is an icon both as a singer and a seller.
Why the product was so popular: It featured explicit photos and text that caused a stir when it was released. She is known for being able to draw attention and this product did just exactly that. The title itself is a great eye-catcher.
9 - Sony PlayStation
Gaming became a favorite pastime for many people during the 90s and early 2000s. The Sony PlayStation was released in 1994 and became one of the most popular gaming consoles.
How many units were sold: 440 million units
How much it sold: Unknown, but the console has generated over $100 billion in revenue.
The combination of games, network effects, and marketing made the Playstation one of the most popular gaming consoles. The success of the PlayStation led to the release of subsequent versions, such as the PlayStation Portable (PSP).
Why the product was so popular: It's fun. That's why. It's a gaming console and it was one of the first consoles to come out with 32-bit graphics. People loved it because it was a great console to play games on. It also had some of the best-selling games of all time and the stories that came with those games were amazing. The console itself was also affordable which made it accessible to a wider audience.
In 1996, Pfizer released Lipitor, a cholesterol-lowering medication. It quickly became one of the best-selling drugs of all time. In fact, in 2010 it was the world's top-selling drug with sales of over $12 billion.
How many units were sold: 729 billion pills
How much it sold: $141 billion
Why the product was so popular: When it was first released, Lipitor was marketed as a "statin" drug that could help to lower cholesterol levels. However, what made Lipitor so popular was its ability to also prevent heart attacks and strokes.
In fact, studies have shown that Lipitor can reduce the risk of heart attack by as much as 36%. Lipitor was also one of the first drugs to be approved by the FDA for the treatment of high cholesterol. This made it very accessible to patients who needed it.
7. Toyota Corolla
The Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling cars of all time, with over 40 million units sold since its introduction in 1966. The Corolla has been popular for several reasons, including its affordability, reliability, and fuel efficiency. In recent years, the Corolla has also become known for its stylish design and comfortable interior.
How many units were sold: 40.7 million units
How much it sold: $818 billion
Why the product was so popular: The Toyota Corolla is one of the best-selling products of all time. Over 40 million units have been sold worldwide, and it has generated over $800 billion in sales.
The Toyota Corolla is a best-selling product for many reasons. Its reliability, affordability, fuel economy, and wide range of features make it a great choice for budget-conscious consumers who are looking for a dependable and feature-rich car. If you're in the market for a new car, the Corolla should be on your list of contenders.
It's hard to overestimate the impact that the iPad has had since it was first released in 2010. In just a few short years, this revolutionary device has transformed how we interact with the world around us. Whether we're using them for work, play, or education, iPads have become an integral part of our lives.
How many units were sold: 400 million iPads.
How much it sold: $132 billion
Why the product was so popular: In a word, it's versatility. The iPad is incredibly versatile and can be used for a wide variety of tasks. Whether you're browsing the web, checking email, playing games, or watching movies, the iPad is up to the task.
Another big selling point for the iPad is its portability. Unlike a laptop, which can be bulky and difficult to carry around, the iPad is light and easy to transport. This makes it perfect for taking with you on the go, whether you're headed to the office or going on vacation.
When the iPhone was released in 2007, it was met with much fanfare and excitement. It revolutionized the way we interact with our phones, and its sleek design and user-friendly interface made it one of the most popular products on the market. Even today, the iPhone is one of the best-selling products of all time.
How many units were sold: Apple has sold more than 2 billion copies of different items.
How much it sold: $91.3 billion
Why the product was so popular: Different people will have different reasons for why they believe the iPhone is one of the most popular products of all time.
Some may say it's because Apple was able to successfully market the device to a wide range of consumers, while others may point to its sleek design and user-friendly interface. Regardless of the reason, there's no denying that the iPhone has had a profound impact on the tech industry and consumer culture as a whole.
4. Super Mario
When it comes to classic video games, few can compete with the popularity of Super Mario. This lovable Italian plumber has been a gaming icon for over three decades and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.
How many units were sold: 262 million have been sold over the years.
How much it sold: $22 billion
Why the product was so popular: So what is it about Super Mario that makes him so popular? For starters, the character is incredibly likable and relatable. He's an underdog who overcomes obstacles through sheer determination and hard work – qualities that we can all aspire to.
Additionally, the Super Mario games are just plain fun. They're well-designed and easy to pick up, yet offer enough depth to keep players engaged for hours on end. It's this perfect mix of accessibility and challenge that has helped make Super Mario one of the best-selling products of all time.
3. Michael Jackson’s Thriller
Michael Jackson's Thriller is not only the best-selling album of all time but also one of the best-selling products of all time. Released in 1982, Thriller went on to sell an astonishing 110 million copies worldwide, making it the first album to ever surpass the 100 million mark.
How many units were sold: More than 70 million copies have been sold.
How much it sold: $499 million
Why the product was so popular: There are several reasons why Thriller was so popular. First and foremost, it was an incredible album – arguably the greatest pop album of all time. It featured some of Jackson's most iconic songs, including "Billie Jean" and "Beat It," and cemented his status as the King of Pop.
Additionally, the album's release coincided with the advent of MTV, which gave Jackson's music videos a wide audience. Finally, Jackson was an incredible performer, and his live shows – many of which were filmed and aired on television – mesmerized audiences around the world.
2. Rubik's Cube
Few products have had as big of an impact on pop culture as the Rubik's Cube. This deceptively simple puzzle toy became a global phenomenon in the 1980s, with millions of people of all ages trying (and often failing) to solve the cube.
How many units were sold: 350 million cubes have been sold.
How much it sold: $5 billion
Why the product was so popular: The Rubik's Cube was so popular for several reasons. First, it was a genuinely challenging puzzle that could take hours or even days to solve. This made it both frustrating and addicting for many people. Additionally, the cube became a symbol of intelligence and dexterity – if you could solve it, you were considered to be smart and nimble-fingered.
Finally, the cube was just plain cool. It was unlike anything else on the market, and its unique design made it an instant hit with people of all ages.
1. Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows
The Harry Potter series has been immensely popular since the release of the first book in 1997. The seventh and final book in the series, Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows was released in 2007 and sold a staggering 11 million copies in its first 24 hours of release. To date, the book has sold more than 44 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling book of all time.
How many units were sold: 15 million copies
How much it sold: $15 billion
Why the product was so popular: There are several reasons why the Harry Potter series has been so popular. First, the books are extremely well-written and offer a rich and compelling story that appeals to readers of all ages. Additionally, the books are set in a fascinating and unique world that is unlike anything else in literature. Finally, the characters in the series are incredibly likable and relatable, making readers feel as if they are part of the story.
What is the best-selling product of all time?
When it comes to the best-selling product of all time in terms of revenue generated, there is no clear consensus. This is because there are several ways to generate revenue, and products can be compared in terms of units sold total revenue generated, or profitability.
However, if we look at the best-selling product of all time in terms of units sold, the answer is clear: it's the PlayStation. The PlayStation was first released in 1994, and since then, over 450 million units have been sold worldwide. That makes it the best-selling console of all time, and the best-selling product of all time in terms of units sold.
Several factors contribute to the PlayStation's success. First, it's a console that appeals to a wide range of gamers. It's not just for hardcore gamers, but also for casual gamers who want to play games with their friends and family.
Second, the PlayStation has an extensive library of games, ranging from first-party exclusives to third-party blockbusters. And third, Sony has been very aggressive in marketing the PlayStation and making it accessible to as many people as possible.
What is the single best-selling product in history?
If we ask this question in terms of units sold, the answer is clear – it’s coca cola. In 1886, Coca-Cola first became available. Despite only selling 25 units in its initial year, the company has had consistent growth since 1891. Nothing else even compares to this. When we take a step back and think about what this means, it’s pretty incredible.
A product that was invented just over 130 years ago has become so ubiquitous and ingrained in our culture that it’s hard to imagine a world without it. And the fact that it’s still going strong, with no signs of slowing down, is a testament to its enduring popularity.
So what is it about Coca-Cola that has made it so successful?
There are a few key factors. Firstly, the taste – Coca-Cola has a unique and instantly recognizable flavor that has been carefully crafted over the years.
Secondly, the marketing – Coca-Cola is one of the most recognized brands in the world, thanks to its clever and iconic advertising campaigns.
Finally, the experience. Drinking Coca-Cola is a moment of pleasure that people have come to enjoy and crave. Coca-Cola has been a favorite for Warren Buffett. He's been seen both drinking it and is known for buying shares in the company. As investors, we can now see why the Oracle of Omaha has been a fan.
So, what do all of these products have in common? They were able to successfully tap into the human brain and create an emotional response. When you can evoke an emotion in your customers, they are more likely to take action, whether that’s clicking a buy button or sharing your product with their friends.
Keep these insights about the human brain in mind when creating your next marketing campaign or product launch, and see how you can use them to drive sales. What emotions will you try to invoke in your customers?