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In an ever more crowded marketplace and with increasingly switched on consumers, it’s crucial to ask the right questions when building your brand.

Product market fit is a well-established cornerstone of marketing, and a crucial component of survey design.

And with good reason. Understanding your product-market fit can powerfully enhance your product or service and help shape your company’s future direction. It can quite literally redefine your core values.

Or, more often, it can lead to subtle but potent product pivoting. In either case, it is marketing gold.

Before finding out how to mine this gold, it’s important to understand the concept. In the simplest terms, product market fit is the degree to which a product satisfies a strong market demand.

Beyond this straightforward definition, it encompasses the notion of creating a minimum viable product (MVP) that solves a problem or addresses a need in the market.

It also means knowing your market: is it big enough to invest time and money into? Is there a gap in the market that my product can fill? Can my product or service hit certain performance targets over time?

A well-designed survey can help you answer these questions.

How to utilize the product market fit survey

Marketing guru Sean Ellis came up with the gold standard product market fit survey question:

How disappointed would you be if you could no longer use this product?”

The respondent can answer anywhere from “very disappointed”, to “not disappointed at all”. Asking this one question alone can generate valuable information, which can inform your future direction in everything from product design to marketing.

The results will be even more enhanced if you follow it up with an open-ended question to learn the reasons behind the respondent’s answer.

A popular metric for measuring product-market fit is the 40% rule.

Essentially, you are looking for at least 40% of respondents indicating that they would be “very disappointed” if they could no longer use your product or service.

But don’t dismiss the proportion of respondents who answered “not disappointed at all”. There are two key ways they can generate valuable information.

Firstly, in a follow up question, you can ask these respondents who they think the product or service is for. The answers will tell you how your product is viewed in the market. And the results might surprise you.

You might discover that a significant proportion of your market views themselves as too young, or too old, or too cool, or not cool enough, for your product. You might discover that your product is more niche-oriented than you thought, or hoped. There might be an us-and-them mindset in the market that you hadn’t been aware of.

All of this information is worth its weight in gold.

Secondly, you can ask another open-ended question to these disinterested respondents, to find out what changes they would make to your product or service to make it more enticing. This will further enhance your awareness of your market, and inform your decisions around product enhancement and delivery.

Survey size and audience

Hiten Shah of Kissmetrics worked out that you need around 40-50 responses to your product market fit survey for the results to be meaningful. This is good news, as it means you don’t necessarily have to conduct a huge, timely, costly survey to get the information you need.

However, it’s important to think about who those respondents are. You don’t just want to survey your 40-50 most enthusiastic, die hard customers. The results will, predictably, be overwhelmingly positive.

At the same time, you don’t want to waste time surveying customers who logged in once, but never actually utilized your product or service. You want to strike a balance between these two groups.

The advice from the experts is to survey customers who have:

  • used your product at least twice
  • used the core features of your product
  • used your product within the last two weeks

Following this advice will ensure the most reliable, actionable results, and bring you closest to determining whether you have achieved true product-market fit.

The Product-Market Fit Continuum

One final thing to bear in mind concerns the non-binary aspect of product market fit. You shouldn’t think of it as a simple, once off, yes/no assessment.

Rather, see it as something that shifts and evolves over time. It will depend on a range of factors, including what stage of development your product is at, how big your market is, your current revenue, as well as your forward projections.

In this way, it’s important to view product market fit as something that evolves with your company. So rather than asking “have we achieved it?” it’s more constructive to ask “to what extent have we achieved it?”

Clearly, determining your product-market fit is a crucial component of growing your company or brand. It can be a powerful survey approach, provided you ask the right questions, survey the right people, and know how best to interpret the results.

For a wealth of expert advice on survey design and analysis, the Survicate team have you covered. They can guide you through the fundamentals of survey-generated research, as well as offer valuable, creative suggestions for getting the most out of your survey design.


Kasia Kowalska

Senior Content Specialist @Survicate. Passionate traveler and a massive fan of American stand-up comedy!