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Product-Market Fit Definition

Updated: Apr 9

Product-market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand. It is the match between the product offered and the needs and preferences of the target market.

In other words, it is the point at which a product meets the needs of the market it is intended for, resulting in high customer satisfaction and demand. Achieving product-market fit is crucial for the success and growth of a business. However, product-market fit is not a stable phase. The market definition, dynamics as well as the nature of the product changes in time. Therefore, a startup team needs to constantly test how well their product offering fits the requirements of their target market.

What are the stages of Product-Market Fit?

In our 7 Fits Framework, we define 3 pre-launch and 4 post-launch fits to be achieved until a startup reaches its first Product-Market Fit. However, Product-Market Fit is in its essence an iterative loop, not a constant state. We often refer to it as an iterative feedback loop or an iterative cycle.

This loop involves creating a hypothesis, developing the early product (or the MVP), testing it with customers, measuring the results, learning from the outcomes, adjusting the hypothesis, and then repeating the process. Once the product-market fit is achieved, the focus shifts to scaling the product. This iterative nature allows for continuous improvement and adaptation based on customer feedback and market dynamics.

Product-Market Fit Examples

Every startup team has their own way of determining if they achieved product-market fit. That being said, the startups with a decent level of traction usually present good product-market fit examples.

The most popular examples of product-market fit are the unicorns of the startup world i.e. Spotify, Dropbox, Slack and Airbnb. Additionally there are some other but less-known great startups i.e. Looker, Retool, Amplitude that have achieved product-market fit with good traction.

Product-Market Fit Analysis

Analyzing Product-Market Fit involves assessing several key factors to determine the alignment between the product and the market. In our 7 Fits Framework, we break this process down into two phases; the pre-launch phase and the post-launch phase.

Some pre-seed startups mistake idea validation with product-market fit. If a startup is in the pre-launch phase, then it is not possible for them to reach product-market fit because PMF requires a real, successful product that makes early customers happy.

Similarly, it is not enough to have launched a product and gained a few customers to achieve product-market fit. The level of growth and customer happiness are the real indicators of PMF therefore a solid product-market fit analysis should involve tangible criteria re. the progress of the startup.


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Product-Market Fit Analysis in the Pre-Launch Phase

In the pre-launch phase, one essential aspect is understanding customer needs and pain points. A successful product not only addresses a specific problem but does so in a way that resonates with the target audience.

Achieving Customer-Problem Fit, Problem-Solution Fit and Customer-Solution Fit (inspired by the Design Thinking) are the requirements in analyzing a start-up's health in the pre-launch phase.

To understand if these fits are achieved, a startup team can conduct thorough market research, do surveys, and collect feedback. These are kind of the crucial steps in gaining insights into customer preferences and refining the product accordingly.

Product-Market Fit Analysis in the Post-Launch Phase

Product-Channel Fit, Channel-Model Fit, Model-Market Fit in our Product-Market Fit framework are the fits that need to be achieved before achieving Product-Market Fit.

To be able to understand if a startup achieved these fits, measuring traction (traffic, conversation rate increase, revenue growth, user growth, retention, churn etc.) and adoption rates in the post-launch phase is a healthy analysis. If a product is truly fitting the market, there should be a noticeable increase in user engagement and adoption over time. Metrics such as user retention, customer satisfaction, and growth in the user base are indicative of a positive Product-Market Fit.

Feedback loops play a vital role in the PMF analysis process. Continuous communication with customers helps in understanding their evolving needs and preferences. This iterative approach enables the product team to make necessary adjustments and improvements, ensuring that the product remains aligned with market demands.

Competitive analysis is also essential in evaluating Product-Market Fit. Understanding how a product stands out among competitors and why customers choose it over alternatives provides valuable insights. Additionally, monitoring market trends and adapting the product to changing dynamics ensures its relevance and continued success.

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Product-Market Fit Testing

There are two major aspects of Product-Market Fit testing:

User Aspect

The reaction of a startup's users or customers shows how happy and satisfied they are with the product they are using. This reaction can be measured with the Net Promoter Score (NPS). Sean Ellis, who first coined the phrase “growth hacker,” says NPS can be boiled down to a simple survey question: “How would you feel if you couldn't use [product] anymore?” Users who responded with “Very Disappointed” (Somewhat Disappointed, Not Disappointed, or No Longer Used) represent your true target market. There are online tools that help startups send automated NPS surveys to test their users' reactions.

Customer reviews, testimonials, expression of happiness in the customer support tickets are also indicators of Product-Market Fit.

KPI Aspect

Constantly tracking the most important KPIs of a startup helps startup teams test their status in terms of Product-Market Fit. Some KPIs that need to be tracked are:

  • Retention

    • User retention

    • Net revenue retention

  • Churn

  • Gross Margin

  • Growth

    • in Revenue

    • in Number of users

    • in Number of customers

    • in Transactions

    • in Sign-ups

    • in Trial customers



Find out where you are in your journey towards Product-Market Fit:


The Wrap Up: Product-Market Fit Definition

To sum up, achieving and maintaining Product-Market Fit is a dynamic and iterative process that requires keen attention to customer needs, market dynamics, and continuous adaptation.

Our 7 Fits Framework provides a structured approach to understanding and achieving PMF, breaking down the analysis into pre-launch and post-launch phases.

The examples of successful startups like Spotify, Dropbox, Slack, and Airbnb serve as inspirations, showcasing how a strong alignment with the market can lead to substantial growth.

The product-market fit analysis as we see it involves comprehensive testing, both from the user's point of view, using tools like Net Promoter Score (NPS), customer reviews, and testimonials, and from a KPI perspective, tracking metrics such as retention, revenue growth, and churn.

It's crucial to recognize that Product-Market Fit definition does not address a one-time achievement but an ongoing commitment to meeting customer expectations and evolving with market trends.

As startups progress through the iterative feedback loop, they can refine their hypotheses, learn from outcomes, and make informed adjustments.

Ultimately, Product-Market Fit sets the stage for scaling a product, underscoring the importance of a continual focus on customer satisfaction and market relevance for sustained success in the competitive landscape.


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