Product first or Customer- A dilemma!


It’s the same circular argument- the chicken came first or the egg?

Similarly, we are quite unsure of what comes first, the customer or the product. It really breaks down into how much money do you have. If you have sufficient money, you can design a market and probably demand for an unknown product. But on the contrary, developing a product that already has an existing customer base or demand for that matter, is far cheaper.

The problem with building the product first is, most likely you’ll end up with the product that doesn’t exactly meet your potential audience’s needs. And just because you build a great product, doesn’t mean you can skip over the audience-building bit.

A business can’t exist without both, so it’s advisable to build a minimum viable product alongside a viable audience and you’ll have a winning combination. We’ve listed a few points for you to get the hang of it.

The simple mantra- Create something people already demand

It’s always beneficial to start with a group of consumers that are willing to pay for your product- even before it exists. It allows you to scale the level of interest and gain funding while the product is still being developed. So obviously, creating a product directly for people ready to purchase it is always a preferred choice.

The unforeseen scenario might be you’re probably not the first or the only one who will recognize the opportunity. And even if you’re the first one, you certainly won’t be the last as new competitors are rapidly expanding in the market. Unless of course you’ve safeguarded yourself with patents, copyrights, and/or trademarks. But even then you’re not totally safe. Worse, counterfeiters will appear.

Create something people didn’t know they wanted

If you consider yourself to be one of those rare geniuses and you’ve ample amount of zeal to create a product, so brilliant, so revolutionary- then go for it. People don’t often realize what they need at times. Let’s take ‘Apple’ for instance, time and again they have successfully created new categories of products, so impressive that they are instant hits as soon as they hit the market. Even when people didn’t feel the need to buy the new thing they are introduced to, they ended up buying them. Of course it’s not an easy strike, but doesn’t mean it is impossible to achieve.

And finally the hard road!

You can create a new product or product category but it requires a larger investment in time and money. You’ll need to cycle your product and/or category through product introduction, education, adoption, and then finally wide acceptance. It can be a long and costly process that’s fraught with peril and failure. Sure, creating your own category and product can allow you to be the first in every aspect in the market but it doesn’t come cheap. Worse they can get out flanked by the competitors after the market matures.

So, if this dilemma needed a solution then it can work either ways and countless examples exist in both cases. The real question is: Which approach is most likely to work for you?

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