In 2011, Eric Ries promoted the concept of Minimum Viable Product in his book titled The Lean Startup. And since then, the startup landscape has been changed.
How exactly did he define a Minimum Viable Product?
According to him, a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is a version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort.
Simply put, a MVP is a product with just enough features to satisfy your early users and obtain the feedback necessary to fully achieve product-market fit.
There are usually different types of MVP ranging from landing page to digital prototype to single featured MVP, but they all have three key characteristics in common.
The three key characteristics of a MVP are:
- It shows enough value that people are willing to buy it or use it.
- It is able to promise future benefits and in doing so retain its early adopters.
- It provides a feedback channel in order to facilitate the development process.
Despite these characteristics, it is clear that your MVP is nothing like what you have in mind for your finished product. In fact, if your MVP doesn’t embarrass you when compared to your competitor’s product, then you probably do not have an effective MVP.
Which leads me to this :
How are you supposed to launch a MVP – which is minimalist in nature – in a market saturated with products that can boast of advanced features?
Is an MVP needed in this situation?
Well, the answer is yes. A Minimum Viable Product (MVP) is not a liability in a saturated market and we’ll see the reasons why.
Reasons Why A MVP Is Needed In A Competitive Market
Here are reasons why you should absolutely create and launch your MVP even if you are entering a competitive market.
The First Isn’t Always The Best
Maybe there are instances where a product is successful because it came on to the scene first and was able to claim a huge market share. But there are also advantages to showing up late.
For starters, early birds also have a problem of creating and educating the market for their products. Most times, they will stumble and make mistakes which you can always learn from.
Also, if you are arriving late to a saturated market, you can always analyze your competitor’s products and find out their weak points. With this information, you can quickly position yourself in a unique position by coming up with something different. Google used this to rise to the top of the search engine world beating competitors like Hotbot and Excite.com.
So it is nice to be the first, but it is definitely not a deal-breaker.
Helps You Prevent Mistakes
Building a MVP is part of an iterative process that helps you learn more about your target customer and gives room for your product to evolve.
In a saturated market, you don’t want to put the wrong foot forward as that might spell doom for your product, even before it is fully launched.
However, If you take the time to expose your MVP to your early adopters and add new features gradually without losing sight of the core functionality, you’ll be able to launch a product that will be relevant in a competitive market.
It Gives You Speed
Your target market is already highly competitive but you have an idea that can survive, do you think you should waste time entering the market?
I don’t think so.
If you’re thinking of it, then someone else is probably doing the same thing too. And the only way to beat that person is to move quickly.
Complete project planning takes a long time if you are going to take all the details into account. This process includes developer’s work, market research, design and testing.
However with a MVP, you can focus on a core functionality, release your product to your market and learn as you grow. This method is not only time-saving but also cost effective.
What Does A MVP Look Like In Today’s Competitive Market?
When most people think of MVP, they see the minimum and forget about the viability.
in today’s market, where there is a huge chance that a product like yours has already been developed or is in the process of being developed, your MVP needs to be more complex than it would have been a few years back.
Your target customers are already used to using the features that come with your competitors product. You can’t just launch a MVP that barely addresses that and expect to have an easy ride marketing your product.
After conducting your market research, the following questions will help you determine how much features your MVP should have.
The questions are:
- Should I release a product with only the features that my competitor’s product has but with improved quality?
- Should I release a product with only some of my competitor’s product features in addition to new features?
- Should I release a product with only new features?
- Should I release a product with all the features that my competitor’s product has plus new features?
All these options can survive in a saturated market, you just have to decide which one will benefit you the most.
Most of the niches today are highly saturated. But that doesn’t mean that your MVP cannot survive. With an effective market research and a strong value proposition, you can set the stage for the success of your app.