Before diving in, here are a few facts for companies to consider with regard to their product strategy:
- Humans have an attention span of just 8 seconds, within which time brands must engage their attention
- 77% of B2C buyers prefer to learn about products through different types of content, on various channels
- B2B companies typically search through at least 12 suppliers, before choosing one to work with
- Since 2020, customer experience has overtaken product price when it comes to customer purchase decisions.
These statistics clearly outline that the days of creating a one-size-fits-all product strategy are gone. When companies sit down to create a product development strategy, they need to consider various facets of the B2B and B2C buying process.
The types of product strategy companies create have to reflect and support the varying buying needs of their existing and prospective customers. Additionally, they should also ensure that the business doesn’t compromise on its sales goals.
This is where it becomes crucial to hire a specialist who knows how to strike the right balance between customer needs, the product development process, and company sales goals. Such a specialist is typically a product strategist.
Many ask whether a product manager is the same as a product strategist?
While some people use the terms “product strategist” and “product manager” interchangeably, these are actually two distinct roles.
A product manager is an expert who is in charge of product strategy implementation. The responsibilities of a product manager include:
- Budgeting the product and sourcing the resources the company needs to design the Minimum Viable Product (MVP) as well as the final product
- Tracks opportunities to launch the products in different niches/markets
- Develops USPs and product descriptions.
- Works closely with the content team to develop marketing material and sales materials for the product
- Monitors and reports on the performance of the product and uses this information for product redesign or upgrades.
A product strategist is not a product manager and is a separate role altogether.
Who are Product Strategists and what roles do they play in a company?
A product strategist is a specialist who focuses on creating effective product strategies. While the product manager is in charge of product design and development, the product strategist lays the foundation by developing the product strategy. In essence, the product strategist’s role precedes that of the product manager. The product manager’s decisions are based on the support and expertise provided by the product strategist.
Responsibilities that fall under the role of a product strategist include:
The product strategist conducts intensive market research to stay atop the current industry and market trends. This market research forms the foundation of both the product development strategy and the product development process the company will utilize. The strategist conducts secondary research and organizes primary research in the form of focus groups, questionnaires, and interviews.
Typically, product strategists are interested in analyzing the performance of a product throughout the product life cycle. Therefore, they conduct research for:
- Studying the market for growth opportunities
- Charting the number and type of competitors present in the market and what products/services they sell
- Identifying the closest competing products & checking what USPs they possess
- Seeking customer suggestions regarding products
- Researching the availability of investments or crowdfunding for the new product development
- Getting feedback about previous purchase experience in the same industry
- Understanding customer pain points
- Consulting prospects about their preference for competitor products.
Customer buying behavior analysis
The product strategist collects customer data to understand what customers want in a product. The information pertains to various facets of the product such as:
- Product material choice & quality
- Design & packaging style
- Product size, dimensions & quantity
- Product variant availability
- Product accessibility – whether it’s easily available everywhere or not
- Product replacement, repurchase, or upgrades
- Product marketing & sales content consumption preferences
- Brand engagement preferences – which channels they use, how frequently they engage with the brand etc.
- Product needs & requirements – if there is any lack in the market currently.
Based on this, product strategists develop customer profiles for each target market. This profile is then used for ideation.
Ideation & product idea screening
While the product strategist does ideate ideas on occasion, the task of ideation does not fall under their official purview. This is a task that the rest of the product development team does. However, the product strategist evaluates the workability of different ideas that the product development team comes up with.
The strategist uses the market research and customer data they have analyzed as a measure to decide whether the ideas generated are feasible for the business or not. Their reports inform the product strategy implementation process. It assists the product manager and the production team to identify how to produce the product in the most productive way.
Additionally, the product strategist’s insights also help the marketing and sales team set realistic and smart goals.
The product strategist also studies competitors’ product development processes and sales and marketing strategies. This is essential, as such information can help the company fine-tune its production and marketing and sales approach too.
Product strategists use a variety of techniques such as a SWOT analysis, PESTEL analysis, Porter’s Five Forces Analysis, etc. to compare and evaluate the business’s performance against other companies in the industry.
The idea behind this is to create effective product strategies that do not resemble competitors’ – since that may dissuade the buyer from purchasing the product.
Apart from this, the product strategist helps the company stay on track with its product development and launch plans. Studies indicate that 45% of all companies delay their product launch by at least 1 month. Through competitor performance monitoring and market needs for a new product, the strategist will be able to advise the company about how fast/slow they should move to release the new product.
Finally, product strategists conduct in-depth research and analysis to understand how best to generate maximum value throughout the product strategy and product development process.
The product strategists use their knowledge of the different demographic, psychographic, and geographic characteristics of various customers to identify what they perceive as “real value.”. Based on their findings, they inform the product manager and product development team of the best types of product strategy to adopt to ensure product profitability.
If the product manager wants to know if specific types of product strategy should be used or discontinued, they can consult the product strategist for advice. The strategist uses their immense knowledge of real-world workings to review how to best-achieve the business’s long-term visions.
Product strategists are extremely integral cogs in an organization’s machinery. Not just for product strategy development, but also for product strategy implementation. They act as key guides who support the development team’s design and style choices. By hiring product strategists in their companies, businesses will set the stage for a successful product development process.