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Market vs. Product

Product Discovery: Market vs. Product research and experiments

Jordan Duff avatar
Written by Jordan Duff
Updated over a week ago


When building something new, there are many questions you have about both your market and your product. The answers to these questions are your ideas. But how do you figure out if your ideas are valid?

In GLIDR, you can validate or invalidate your ideas by running Experiments. When you test your market ideas, you're figuring out your business model. When you test your product ideas, you're figuring out exactly what your solution should look like. 

Learn more about the activities you can do to answer these questions in the Index of Methods.

Market vs. Product

Article excerpted from The Real Startup Book

Market vs. Product

Do we need to learn about the market or the product?

To narrow down the long list of applicable methods to something actionable, we first separate our questions into those about the market and those about the product.


  • Who is our customer?

  • What are their pains?

  • What job needs to be done?

  • How are they doing this job today?

  • Does the customer segment already have a solution to this pain?

  • Is this customer segment really willing to pay for a better solution for this job?

  • Is our customer segment too broad?

  • How do we find them?

  • How much will this customer segment pay?

  • How do we convince this customer segment to buy?

  • What is the cost to acquire a customer in this customer segment?


  • How can we solve this problem?

  • What form should this take?

  • How important is the design?

  • What’s the quickest solution?

  • What is the minimum feature set?

  • How should we prioritize?

  • Is this solution working?

  • Are people using it?

  • Which solution is better?

  • How should we optimize this?

  • What do people like/dislike?

  • Why do they do that?

  • Why do prospects buy from us?

  • Why do prospects not buy from us?

In this case, “market” refers to any question or element that is mostly or completely connected to the identity of the customer segment.

Market questions include those about which channels we can use to reach customers. For example, we cannot use traditional broadcast television advertising to target customers who don’t have a television set.

“Product” (or service) is simplified to mean anything regarding the value proposition or its creation. This includes resources needed to produce the value proposition, as well as any key activities, partners, or costs.

The value proposition really sits at the intersection of market needs and the product itself. The product has no value outside of the customer using it, but we are again simplifying for the purpose of navigation.

If we are using the Business Model Canvas, market questions are those on the right side of the canvas, including: customer, channel, relationship, and revenue. Product questions are those about the value proposition and everything left of it, including: key activities, key resources, key partners, and costs.

Where Should We Start?

This book is agnostic about where we start. We may already have a product and are investigating who to sell it to, or we may have a customer segment with a strong pain point and are trying to find a solution. But when in doubt, start with the customer.

If the customer segment changes, then the product usually must be adapted to the customer. However, if the product changes, customers may simply use a different product. Human behavior is notoriously difficult to change, although it is not impossible.

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