illustration of products on grocery store shelves

3 steps to product-market fit

Ten years ago, if you didn’t feel like cooking dinner, your options were go out to eat, hit a drive-thru or order takeout – all options that were not very waistline-friendly.

Some entrepreneurs recognized that people wanted to make healthier meals but needed help with recipes and finding ingredients. Today, HelloFresh will ship you a box with everything you need to whip up healthy meals like pecan-crusted trout or spicy turkey burgers, and it’s making millions doing it.

HelloFresh is a great example of product-market fit – when a product successfully addresses and solves the needs of a target market.

“You may have an excellent product, but if enough people don’t want or need it, sales will be an uphill battle,” said Robert Fontaine of Sefide Global.

So how do you achieve product-market fit?

  1. Research Your Audience

Start by defining your target audience – the people who will benefit the most from your product. This group will become the basis of your “buyer persona” – representations of your ideal customers. This set of characteristics will help you in product development, sales pitches and marketing plans. 

In the HelloFresh example, the target audience ended up being 80% women, mostly between the ages of 30 and 50, who were busy but still interested in health and nutrition. This buyer persona guided HelloFresh in the types of meals it developed, the emphasis on utilizing social media influencers in marketing, partnerships with other popular apps like Spotify, and more.

  1. Identify Market Gap

Once you understand your target audience’s needs and behaviors, you can start to find market opportunities. Find your audience’s “pain points” – the problems they wrestle with in their daily lives. Your research will reveal the same pain points mentioned over and over again.

For HelloFresh, their target audience’s pain points included a scarcity of time to prepare meals, frustration with high-calorie convenience foods and a lack of confidence in cooking ability. They addressed those pain points with developing meals that could be prepared in 30 minutes or less, healthy food item choices and easy-to-follow recipe cards.

  1. Define Product USP

Now that you have a buyer persona, and you know the persona’s pain points, you can define your product’s unique selling proposition (USP).

Simply put, your USP is what element you can offer that your competition can’t. HelloFresh defined its USP with its precise quantities of ingredients and simple, easy-to-follow recipe cards. You will go back to your USP time and again as you develop packaging, in-store promotions, advertising, social media campaigns, etc.

“Getting to product-market fit is the holy grail of sales and marketing,” Robert said. “Once you achieve it, your customers become your most powerful marketing tool by telling their friends and family about your product, leaving you great online reviews and really becoming your product ambassadors.”