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Jillian Kaplan

Identifying Different Types of Product Users

Jillian Kaplan

  • Jul 31, 2020
  • 6 Min read
  • 61 Views
  • Jul 31, 2020
  • 6 Min read
  • 61 Views
Product Management
Management
Product Discovery
Design Thinking

Introduction

When you ideate a product there is often an Avatar you have in mind for who you are designing the product for. This avatar is your core user, or the person you are targeting and designing the product for. However, there are going to be other product users who end up purchasing your product. We call these adjacent users of the product.

In this guide, we will look at examples of core users from which you will create an avatar as well as your other or unexpected users.

Identifying Your Core Product User

Your core user is the person or company you are building the product for. They are who you are going to target in your research, engineering, marketing, and sales. When you look at building a product and identify the opportunity in the market, this would be the opportunity to build a product for your core users.

For example, if you are building a chip and your core user is from the healthcare industry and the healthcare industry buys $1 billion in chips every single year, that would be your market size for your core user.

Identifying your core user will allow you to be able to pull these numbers and help you show why this product or solution makes sense from a financial standpoint as you start to build it out.

You cannot look at the market size or opportunity until you identify who are you are going to target as a core user. Once you have these core users, you need to dig even deeper in what makes your core user tick.

Creating an avatar when going through this exercise can help you visualize and "bring to life" what your core user looks like.

Identifying Your Avatar

The dictionary definition that applies to this idea of an avatar is "an embodiment or personification, as of a principle, attitude, or view of life. " So, who is your avatar?

It’s the person/company you are building the product for.

Let’s look at what things we need to identify for our avatar in out to build a product for them:

  • Profile: who are they? What is their role in the organization? What is their seniority? Who do they report to?

  • What are their current products and solutions? What are they currently using?

  • What pain point are you trying to solve with your product? Often times we talk about "building a better mouse trap," which means we are trying to solve for an issue in a better way. So in this case, what is the customer's problem?

  • What are they investing in? How does your product fit into their strategy and investments now? And how does it fit in over the next five or ten years?

  • What are their opportunities? This is a very important one, especially as you talk about building relationships and partnerships rather than just making a transaction. What opportunities does this customer have to make money and how does your product or solution help them do that? You need to make sure you are addressing that, especially in your product marketing once the product is launched.

From a write-up of this person you can literally create a physical sketch, and that would be your avatar. Often times being able to visualize who is going to be your core user can help you build your product or solution to ensure you are meeting their needs, solving their problems, and helping them make money.

Adjacent Product Users

Adjacent product users are customers who may need your product but are probably a much smaller market and may not have the same issues, needs, and wants that your core users have. It is possible that they buy your product but not in the same scale as your core users.

It is important to identify adjacent users, understand who they are, and ensure you are able to support them. However, a lot of it comes down to numbers. For example, if core users are going to be 90% of your product sales income then you need to focus on them. You need to fully understand who they are and develop the avatar we talked about.

The adjacent users might have some different requirements and when you think about building these out, a financial analysis should be performed to understand if it makes sense to take the time and money to do this.

For example, if 80% of the market is five customers who are you core users, and 20% of the market is twenty customers who are adjacent users, it is in your best interest to focus on the five core users.

While it is key to understand they exist and who they might be, they are not your focus as you build your product or solution.

Conclusion

You need to be able to identify your core user in order to properly build and launch a product. The core user is important in the build phase because you have to be able to define who they are in order to capture the market size, opportunity, and other important numbers that executives need to see in order to sign off on the product or solution.

Past this concept phase you need to take that core user and turn them into a real-life person, a.k.a. an avatar, in order to be able to develop the product or solution and, very importantly, bring it to market. You need to ensure your messaging truly speaks to your avatar and addresses their problems with your solution or product. You want them to see your messaging and know that you are talking to them and that you have built this product or solution for them. You can make that clear if you do it correctly.

Your adjacent users are also important, and you need to understand who they are and that they exist, but your focus needs to be on the core user. They are the reason why this solution or product was developed and that is who you are talking to through conception, design, production, marketing and sales.

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