What is a Product?

What is a Product?

Seems like a straightforward question. Well, maybe a century ago!. The definition of a product has changed drastically over the last few decades. It has moved beyond the physical to digital, metaphysical and beyond. Is service a product? Is brand a product? We can argue either way. The definition of a product has broadened overtime.

A product is something that creates value.

“Something” can be:

Physical like a car
Digital like a ecommerce website
Brand like an instagram influencer
Opinions like a review

“Value” can be:

Time savings
Cost savings
A good feeling (yes you read that right)

We will focus on digital products for this blog. But most of it is applicable for any type of product.

You product might fall into one or more of the below categories

1.Disruptive Innovative Product: This is the first of its kind. Nothing before it has succeeded. That does not mean that it hasn’t been tried. For example there were lots of predecessors to the ipod but none like it that nailed the entire customer experience.
2.Complimentary: They are built as ancillary products that help or improve an existing product.
3.Substitutes: They are a replacement to an existing product in the market.

Types of Users

In 1962, E.M Rogers developed the diffusion of innovation theory. It has become one of the most popular ways to identify adoption of a product by users.

Adoption of Product by Users


Innovators like to try out new things and ideas. Their motivation is the sense of adventure that accompanies trying out different things. They do not shy away from risks and usually have an appetite for taking on high risk high reward bets.

Early Adopters

They are the ones to adopt a product right after the innovators. Not quite the same risk appetite but they do adopt products at an early stage.

Early Majority

The adoption time for this group is longer than the above two. They are slower and a little more cautious in their approach when evaluating products.

Late Majority

They adopt the product after a large part of the society has given the thumbs-up to the product.


These people do not like change. They are happy with the status quo and hate anything that disturbs it. This group is the last to adopt a product. It happens when everyone around them has used the product for a while and they have no choice but to embrace change.

Factors that influence the success of a Product


What benefit will users get out of the product? The total value your product provides should not be easy to replicate. You will have to work to make sure that the messaging of your value proposition is relatable and easy to understand by the target users. You might also go down the Freenium route to acquire customers faster.


The perceived value of your product offering should exceed the price you charge for it. In the early days you should test the price sensitivity of your potential customers. It will help you understand how much time you need to spend on optimising pricing.


Finding the right channel to promote your product is critical. It might be Google, LinkedIn, Facebook or an influencer group. In the early days you might not have the money for paid promotions. But you can overcome that by developing a content strategy to drive SEO traffic to your site. It doesn’t happen overnight but the traffic you get is more relevant and easier to convert.


How crowded is the industry that you want to enter? Are the barriers to enter the industry high? If it’s very crowded then how does your product differentiates itself from others?

You can learn how to do competitor research by reading our blog here


You might have the right idea, the timing is perfect, everything is great. But if you don’t have the right people to help you pursue your product goals then you will fail. People who share your values, work ethic, desire and will to succeed will make it worth your while.

Do you need a product manager for your product?

The answer depends on the stage of evolution that your product is at. In the beginning as the founder of a company you are the product manager. You do all the things that product managers do and much. Creating the vision, developing a roadmap and executing the vision.  You should continue to do so until you have found your product-market fit.

To learn what a product manager does read our blog here.

Finding product market fit?

Product- Market fit was first described by Marc Andreessen in his article  the only thing that matters. It has since then become one a popular way of analyzing where your startup is headed.

It is a state where your product is selling faster than you can scale. You are not able to keep up with demand for the product. It sells so fast that you are playing catchup when scaling your organization to keep up with the growing needs. That’s when you have found the product-market fit. Before that you are experimenting with what you think could be the product market fit.

In the book “The Lean Startup” Eric Ries describes the Build-Measure-Learn feedback loop. It is a way to build products using an iterative process based on customer feedback. If you are building a digital product then this approach will help you.

Making the move from Product to Platform

What’s better than a successful product? Yes you guessed that right from the title. A Platform!

The journey of transitioning from a product company to a platform company is not an easy one. But definitely one worth trying. A platform enables not just your own but other products for users. You can be a platform and product at the same time.

Let’s look at Zapier as an example. It’s a product that helps you automate your workflow. You can do that by using the Zapier product and then creating your zap. Till this point Zapier is a product. Customers use it to build their own zaps or use the ones that Zapier provides.

Now I’m a developer and see great value in what Zapier is doing. I want to build on top of Zapier and sell my own product. An example would be building zaps for gmail integration with salesforce. I package it and start selling it. At this stage Zapier has become a platform.

Platform is the next stage of evolution for a product. It comes with its own set of challenges. So go build your product and then make the transition to a platform 🔥 🔥 🔥

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