Have you ever ambitiously brought home a bunch of plants from the garden store, only for them to wither up a few weeks later? They look so good in the nursery, but then at home, they struggle to stay green for more than a few weeks. 

What’s the problem?

Not that the plant was bad — or that we lack a green thumb! In most cases, it’s simply an issue of poor product-market fit. 

We bring home a plant that’s designed for full sun and place it in our dark office, or we over-water plants that thrive in desert conditions. So the product (the plant) wasn’t meant for the conditions (the market) we placed it in. This is exactly what happens, on a much larger scale, with many digital products. 

If we build a product that isn’t a good fit for the target market, it fails to thrive, just like the ill-fated plants from the garden store. So how do we achieve product-market fit, and what does it look like for digital products? 

In this article, with the help of some product leaders here at Bubble, we’ll answer questions like: 

What is product-market fit? 

The term product-market fit refers to the alignment between your product and a problem that your ideal users are trying to solve. Ideally, your product solves that problem in the best and easiest way. 

“Product-market fit is the alignment between a product and significant market demand, signifying that the product meets the needs and desires of the market it is in.” — Carly Blumenfeld, Director of Product Marketing, Content, and Education at Bubble

Ideally, Vivienne Chen, Product Marketing Manager at Bubble, says, successful product-market fit is achieved when you can: 

  • Identify the problem that people need solved
  • Find the best and easiest way to solve it 
  • Provide your audience with a solution at a price they’re willing to pay 

Product-market fit also supports your product’s success, as Carly points out: 

“Especially in a product-led growth company, indicators such as high user adoption rates, strong engagement metrics, and positive feedback not only demonstrate PMF but also fuel the product’s market success.” 

In short: Product-market fit exists when your product or service meets the real demand and needs of your market. 

Why is product-market fit important?

It’s pretty easy to see the connection between product-market fit and product success. The stronger product-market fit your product achieves, the more likely it is to succeed with your target audience.  

Product-market fit is especially important for startups

“Achieving product-market fit is crucial for a startup’s survival and growth, as it indicates that the product is compelling enough to attract and retain enough customers, serving as a foundation for scalable business growth.” — Carly Blumenfeld, Director of Product Marketing, Content, and Education at Bubble

In short: Before you can scale and grow efficiently, you need to make sure that you’ve achieved product-market fit. 

Other benefits of achieving product-market fit: 

  • Lower customer acquisition costs. The stronger your product-market fit, the more benefit you receive from organic marketing channels and word-of-mouth. 
  • Higher customer retention. When your product adequately addresses customer needs, you’ll benefit from stronger retention rates and less churn. 
  • Easier scalability: When you have effective growth via strong product-market fit, it’s much easier to scale your business quickly and naturally. 
  • Market recognition: The better your product-market fit, the more word will naturally spread and grow your market recognition and share.

The bottom line is this: If you don’t achieve product-market fit, you’ll find it difficult to really grow and expand your business. So focus first on developing strong product-market fit before you dive into deeper strategy, product development, and growth. 

How do you achieve product-market fit? 

Each product and market are different, so the process of finding product-market varies from company to company. 

That said, there are a few foundational steps you can take to help you achieve product-market fit sooner and more efficiently. 

  1. Define and talk to your ideal customer
  2. Understand their problems and needs
  3. Identify your UVP (unique value proposition)
  4. Get customer feedback on an early solution, or MVP (minimum viable product)
  5. Iterate and pivot as necessary

Let’s break down each of those steps. 

Talk to your target audience

Before you can find product-market fit, you need to clearly define and understand your market.

Who are your potential customers? What are their needs? How are they trying to solve them currently? What’s not working about that? 

Instead of just doing market research, make sure you‌ talk to your target customer. 

“Always ask the people whose problem you’re trying to solve first. [You want] to confirm if the problem you’ve noticed is real, if the solution is accurate, if your idea takes into account all perspectives that aren’t yours, and if people are truly eagerly wanting a solution.” — Vivienne Chen, Product Marketing Manager at Bubble

From your market research, you can validate your idea or pivot, if necessary, to find the best solution to the problem and see where your product can play a role. 

Understand the problem first

One of the biggest — and most often overlooked steps — in finding product-market fit is understanding the actual problems to be solved. 

This step is often overlooked because it’s easy to assume we know what the problem is. After all, we’re already working on the solution! But talking to your target customers and really drilling down on how they see the problem, and where their biggest pain points are, makes a world of difference. 

Carly suggests: 

“Start with customer interviews. Really understand their needs, preferences, and pain points. Don’t try to start with the solution, instead, really index on the problems they have.” 

That way, you can make sure that you’re solving ‌the right problems, helping you create a more effective solution. 

Identify your unique value proposition 

Once you’ve clearly identified your target customer base and the problem your product will solve, you can move on to identifying your unique value proposition (UVP). That is, what sets your solution apart from the existing solutions available? 

In order to determine product-market fit, you should talk to your target audience about the product and value proposition — what makes you stand out from other product ideas geared toward your customer base. 

A good value proposition defines your product positioning. This sells your potential customers on why they should purchase your solution instead of another one — or why they should purchase a solution at all. 

To identify your UVP,  you need to know: 

  • What your customers' biggest problems are 
  • What key features and benefits your product offers 
  • What unique features or solutions your product offers compared to other options 
  • Why new customers would buy from you and not a competitor

There are so many product strategies that can come out of defining your UVP:  

  • Cost differentiation 
  • Niche differentiation 
  • Quality differentiation 
  • Speed differentiation 

…and more.

Once you’ve defined your UVP, it makes it much easier to see how you can best differentiate your products from others on the market — which means you’ve already taken a big first step in defining your product strategy. A great strategy can be a big help in achieving product-market fit, so make sure you clearly define this before you start on your product roadmap and development! 

Get customer feedback on an early solution

Now that you’re ready to start solving, don’t try to solve things perfectly on the first try. Instead, get started with a quick initial idea and get some customer feedback to validate your value proposition. 

Having an early prototype, minimum viable product, or even a basic V1 of your product can make it much easier to get accurate customer feedback and measure product-market fit early on. As Carly suggests, 

“Have a minimum viable product to start — you want to put something in front of your users that they can react to.” 

Getting real customer feedback from the beginning will tell you more about product-market fit than all the interviews and ideation ever could. So don’t aim for perfection — aim for real progress that can help steer you in the right direction.  

Building your minimum viable product or V1 of your product on a no-code tool like Bubble makes it much easier and faster to get your product out in the world and start gathering user feedback. Whether you use moderated user feedback groups or simply launch a simple V1 to the market, you’ll be able to launch faster and start learning from and iterating based on user feedback to achieve product-market fit. 

Iterate and pivot as necessary 

The easier it is to iterate and pivot, the easier it is to make sure your product satisfies market demand. As you learn from your testing, you want to be able to iterate quickly without incurring huge costs, so that you can adjust as much as needed until you find the sweet spot within your target market. 

One of the easiest ways to do this: Build your product on a no-code tool like Bubble. 

Building on Bubble makes it so much easier to iterate quickly, easily, and with fewer resources and costs. Take Messly, for example: Messly started as an app to match hospitals who needed temporary physicians with available doctors — like Uber for the healthcare system. 

But with a traditional development team and React app, every change was “slow and painful,” Dr. Abrar Gundroo, Messly co-founder, recounts. After a few years, Abrar noticed a new buyer persona expressing interest in their app — recruitment agencies with existing hospital relationships. Abrar wanted to pivot to meet this strong market demand, but their traditional development process just couldn’t keep up. 

That’s when Abrar started teaching himself to build new features on Bubble, which he quickly realized was much faster — and more cost-effective — than managing an entire development team. Soon, he took over as CTO, and pivoted the business with Bubble to become a robust recruitment platform with dozens of features to support healthcare recruiters, seeking hospitals, and available doctors. 

“Bubble gave us the conviction to make the [business] pivot,” Abrar says. “Without it, I’m not sure I would have had the confidence or the vision to say ‘we can actually build that.’” 

What does product-market fit look like? 

Understanding what product-market fit is pretty straightforward. But understanding when you’ve achieved it can be a lot less clear. 

How exactly do you measure product-market fit? The product leaders we spoke to gave us three strategies:

Ask your users

As with many things in product development, you can always start by asking existing customers. 

Measuring your net promoter score (NPS) is a common way to do it, but it’s not the only way. 

“I really like the question, “How would you feel if you could no longer use [our product]?” You can then chart the percentages of responses in each category. As some research proposes, when you’ve hit 40% of respondents answering “very disappointed,” you’re on your way to product-market fit.” — Laura Oppenheimer, Lead Product Manager at Bubble 

This kind of quantitative data gives you clear benchmarks to aim for, and an easy way to see your improvement over time. 

Real product-led growth 

Another key way to determine product-market fit — this time with more qualitative data — is by assessing your product-led growth. 

“Having seen it working at Bubble, one obvious indicator [of product-market fit] is that word of mouth becomes your best seller early on. The healthiest indicator of strong early product-market fit is that the people you get to use your tool recommend it organically and enthusiastically to their friends.” — Vivienne Chen, Product Marketing Manager at Bubble 

A simple way to measure product-led growth is through survey data on your user acquisition pipeline. The stronger your word-of-mouth recommendation, the stronger product-market fit you likely have. 

Look at your metrics 

Finally, there are plenty of other metrics you can look at alongside NPS and product-led growth to get a larger picture of product-market fit. Carly offers some of the questions that you might want to ask to consider your wider product-market fit: 

“Are you growing organically or do you have to pay for advertising to get people into your product? Once people sign up, do they stay? Do you have success stories about how you change or influence positively how an individual or team spends time or their results? Are people willing to pay for your product? Do you have competitors? If the answer is no, that might be a red flag!”

In other words: consider both qualitative and quantitative metrics, such as: 

  • Word of mouth and referrals 
  • Churn rate 
  • Growth rate  
  • Customer retention rate 
  • Market share 
  • Conversion rate 
  • Ratings and reviews 

All of this data can give you a more holistic picture of how well you’ve achieved product-market fit and help you understand how to improve. 

Bubble makes building for product-market fit simple 

There’s no magic bullet to achieving product-market fit — but building on Bubble makes it a lot easier. 

With Bubble’s visual, no-code editor, you can take features from idea to reality in record time — and at a fraction of the cost. This means that iterating and pivoting as you learn from your target customer is much easier and more cost-effective. 

Not to mention that with Bubble, your product can evolve naturally from the first iteration. Gone are the days where you’d build a dedicated prototype or MVP just to throw it out and start building “for real.” Build your V1 on Bubble and start testing it with real users right away. Launch and learn more quickly, and start iterating based on real user feedback.

What better way to find product-market fit than launching a real product to market quickly and cost-effectively, and then iterating right within that product as you meet your user’s needs? 

Start building on Bubble yourself to bring your vision to life — or partner with a Bubble-Certified Developer or agency to help your team execute quickly and flexibly.