The first time we started working on the flatpack bicycle design, we mainly focussed on creating a modular DIY mobility kit which could easily be packed and shipped across the globe. Working on the concept of enhancing customization, we created tools and systems that connected the physical product to the online, digital experience and provided analytics, information, and comfort to the rider. Overall, it was an eco-friendly product, which was built to meet the demands of bike sharing programs where a rider could not only customize it for personal use but could also share it with others.
Our vision of a modular DIY mobility kit helped in planning how we wanted it to look and function. Getting to this vision is where product strategy came into the picture. Deciding the value proposition, key features, users, market, and our business goal of making something useful, yet out of the box helped us create this masterpiece. All these steps are part of a product strategy, which is a high-level plan that enables you to define your product’s journey. It is the process that ultimately leads you to your destination - memorable user experience!
In our last blog, we spoke about Product Design 101, now, let’s get into the depths of what product strategy is composed of.
Is Product Strategy Just a Blueprint? Let’s Find Out!
Product strategy is a comprehensive approach towards meeting audience needs while still aligning it with your business goals. It is an answer to questions like - what are we trying to build; who are we targeting; how should we design it so it stands out from competitors, why would people want to buy or use it; and so on. Many brands also overlook how important it is to take design into consideration while devising their product strategy. So, how does one start?
Product strategy broadly consists of three components:
- Target Audience and Needs
- Key Features and Differentiators
- Business Goals
Target Audience and Needs - Who Are They And What Do They Need?
How does one find such their target audience? The answer lies in your customer base. You need to focus on a niche market, niche requirement. However, it doesn’t mean that you close the doors on those who don’t fit your criteria of the target audience. Rather, have different personas to represent different segments of your customer base. You can now observe your target audience at a store or maybe conduct one-on-one interviews or focus group discussions to understand their behavioral and psychological needs. This deeper understanding allows you to to define important product features and prioritize them to cater to the different segments of the customer base.
You may also take a peek into the competitor’s audience pool to look for people who fit your persona. The more you understand your user, the more details you will gather like demographics based on age, gender, location, education, income, occupation, interests, personality, and behavior which will help you build more refined personas for your products and services.
For example, while designing the Apple Watch Band - Poetic Cases, we finalized four demographics and focused our designs based on that and came up with the sports, trek, every day, and luxury versions of the poetic cases.
2. Key Features and Differentiators - Does It Stand Out?
Understanding the target audience and defining the personas will enable you to identify different scenarios where your product will be used. Combining your knowledge of the target audience and possible product features, it is important now to test the feature list in different use cases. This process filters out the features that may be gimmicky and not useful because everything is looked at from the point of view of the user. It gives us an overview of how your product fits the lifestyle of your target audience, how and when will they use it, which feature attracts them the most, and which feature will they find most useful. Thinking from the user’s point of view is critical at every step of the product development from strategy to design.
Further, based on current market trends we can shortlist color, material and tech to include in the product. The final features have to be based on what is relevant - for the user, the product and the environment it lives in. While striking this balance between the user, the product and its environment, is critical and forms the foundation upon which seamless design language can be created.
To start with, focus on four to five key features at this stage which you think can address the main pain point of your audience, render the primary benefit, and are important influencers in convincing people to buy your product.
3. Business Goals - Calculating the Product’s Worth
Setting business goals enables you to identify how the product would add value to your company if it is going to generate ample ROI, help enter a new market or reach a new audience and why it is worthwhile to let your investment flow for its development. This is also an important indicator of whether this particular product will help in the sale of other new or complementary products or not, reduce investment costs, and increase equity.
Having clear business goals enables one to identify key performance indicators (KPIs) for measuring the product’s performance as each of your KPIs have a clearly defined source of data to measure the performance of your product and report it on a monthly basis.
In a Nutshell
A product strategy is not a fixed layout of inflexible boundaries and limits. Rather, it is something that allows you the time and area to be flexible before you are all set to start implementing it. This is the stage where you can also take a step back to make amendments on what you had initially thought of. It is more of a foundation which is carefully laid and tested for weak areas to make sure you have the best product build over it. It tells how you intend to realize your vision and what process you’re planning to take to achieve that bigger picture!