Product-market fit is a term that has been getting a lot of buzz lately. It’s even become a popular topic of discussion for marketers, with several writers, startups, and blogs trying to come up with their own vision of what it means to have product-market fit. This has led to much confusion around what product-market fit actually is—which is why we put together the following post about getting to product-market fit using market research.

We have this great top-in-the-class product platform that allows users to virtually sell unused or used stuff they do not need at home. The platform is very intuitive and user-friendly, so it will be a hit

How often did we not hear statements in almost the same manner at business conferences, investor pitches, and board meetings? Quite often isn’t it?

Factually speaking, there is absolutely no problem with the statement. Not a thing.

But it does lack an essential element – the element of "Market-Product" fit. The statement speaks about a product developed out of some thought and passion but somehow fails to mention the market-fit aspect. Is it addressing a current problem in the market or is just trying to "fit" itself into the market somehow?

Enough has been thought, said and written about the concept of a – Product-market fit to an extent that it has become a common buzz word in board room meetings and investors pitches. One cannot get enough of it. Can they?

There have been many cases of start-ups developing some brilliant products and yet failed to get the desired traction. The reason? Starting in the wrong place. When a product is built out of sheer assumption or because it sounded like an exciting idea, the chances are it may not be a hit in the market. The idea to begin conceptualizing a product should begin with an actual need and not a perceived need.

How about identify the requirement of a product by the market first and then build the same … instead of the other way around.

First, do the market survey and then go build the product … How surveys can help? How BlockSurvey play a role?

So, how then can one make it right here?

There needs to be a shift, a shift in thought process from a Product-market fit to a Market-product fit.

But then how do you get started?

Start with understanding what the market needs.

This is where online surveys come in handy in a massive way. Online surveys are not necessarily the only means to understand what the market needs but they sure are the quickest and arguably, the easiest way to get a basic idea of what the market needs.

Benefits of online surveys

It is interesting what online surveys can do for companies – be it a start-up at an ideation stage or a well-established company looking to expand its product portfolio. Online surveys are potent tools to collect, store and analyze and host information gathered from the market.

How online surveys play a key role in the shift to Market-product fit?

1. Relay market voice

The very first thing about online surveys is that they relay or transmit what the market speaks, be it about an existing product or about an upcoming product. An online survey is perhaps the quickest means to have an opinion on what the market thinks about your idea, prototype or product. What online surveys also do is provide the benefit of time – ideators, founders and creators stand to benefit from a quick, to-the-point and relevant feedback from the market. This allows them the scope to fine-tune their ideas/products towards greater acceptance.

2. Ask the right questions

Online surveys are your best bet to elicit immediate, authentic and maybe insightful feedback from the market provided the survey questionnaire is structured properly. It is important to ask the right set of questions if your intent is to really know what the market or customers out there want. Ask right, and you will get it right.

Another subtle yet very relevant aspect is framing the question; using the right words to elicit the right answer. Let’s take a look at the below example based on the platform we were speaking about –

Option#1 – ‘’ Would you be interested in selling unused and used items from home?’

Option#2 – ‘’Would it make sense to sell unused and used items from home?’’

While option#1 would elicit a response in the form of a ‘’Yes’’ or ‘’No’’, option#2 is far wider in its scope and breadth to unearth the intent of respondents – would your customers really want to sell or are they just not into it at all?

Often, we end up asking questions in a manner that will point to answers to we want to hear. A good online survey is very neutral in nature; it asks for what the customers actually think of the idea or product. Does your product hit the mark? This way you would have a fair idea if the product you are building (or are looking to build) ‘fits the bill’’ or not. In other words, does it make the market-fit?

3. Target the right segment

We have framed the questions right. We are now ready to launch it – but who are the participants?

When companies end up not getting the right feedback - it is more often the case of not addressing the right target segment while conducting the survey. A seemingly silly but very costly mistake indeed. What use is it if you do not address the right target segment.

Take our example of the online platform we have been speaking about; there is no point sending the surveys to working males or school-going teens. While they are an integral part of the household, they are more likely not the decision-makers (at least from the Indian context) when it comes to what needs to be retained and what can be sold happens or does not happen in the kitchen.

You would want to send the survey to housewives who play a more important role in managing a home. Targeting the right market segment helps you know if your product or service really hits the bull’s eye or is it just shooting in the dark. What some companies do not understand is that it is OK to get a ‘No’ from the market. The secret here is, a ‘No’ helps you assess and analyze and come up with a better solution, a better version of your product or may even help abandon the idea and switch to a different product altogether.

The importance of online surveys cannot be appreciated more. Properly structured and framed surveys provide you the vantage point from where you can take quicker and smarter decisions saving on time, money and efforts.

4. What’s the most relevant question

Is there one single question that perhaps can define the strength of your product or idea (in case you are yet building a product) and validate on the market-product fit?

Fortunately, for all of us - there is.

Popular marketing Guru, Sean Ellis recommends a very important question to be asked to your potential customers to really test if the product is a great market fit –

Product Market Fit

The answer choices range from – "very disappointed" to "I no longer use the product". By conducting a survey with 100 start-ups Ellis found that if over 40% of the respondents say that they will be ‘’very disappointed’’ when they stopped using the product then there is a great chance that the product has achieved the market-fit. Interesting isn’t it?

An example of ‘Posing the most relevant question’ is a survey conducted by Hiten Shah on the popular communication platform – Slack. The survey covered 731 users of Slack and came up with some very interesting insights –

  • 370 or 51% of the respondents said that they would be ‘’very disappointed’’ if they could no longer use Slack
  • 288 or 31% said that would be ‘’somewhat disappointed’’
  • Only 73 or 10% said ‘’Not disappointed’’

It is a known fact that Slack has been and is an amazingly useful communication platform that has been the pick amongst several users – both big and small organizations. As this survey had validated - Slack is now a classic example of a Market-product fit.

Research says there are three main aspects to be looked into to shift from a product-market fit to a market-product fit –

Who – Who is it targeted at? Who will likely use the product?

Problem – What problems does your target market currently face? Will your product help address the problem(s)?

How – How do you plan to solve these problems?

Once you have all these questions answered, you would almost automatically arrive at a product that falls into the market-product fit space. The journey from there on is all about your drive, efforts, and perseverance!

Sample product-market fit survey template for your reference. Also, check out BlockSurvey's Template section for more such product experience surveys. It helps you get started with the best market surveys at ease.

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