Building a product that perfectly resonates with your target audience is every business’ dream. However, 80-95% of newly launched consumer products never make it big. Even with products backed with in-depth market research, and huge development budgets, the numbers still don’t look very good.
With digital products, where development and marketing are considered relatively easier, the story is still the same. Although top Mobile App Development Companies might seem to be churning-out record-breaking apps one after another, the average small business is often left stranded in a volatile, highly competitive, and ever-changing market.
Product development is an expensive, lengthy process, and nothing hurts a business more than tediously developing products that don’t sell as well as they are supposed to. Because of this uncertainty, it is crucial for businesses to only invest in reliable products that they know will bring in the desired returns.
One good way to minimize the risk of a product’s failure and to judge its success potential is to build and launch a Minimum Viable Product (MVP).
What is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?
A good way to understand the term MVP is to consider what it tries to do. MVPs try to answer the most fundamental question every business is concerned with: Will my product sell?
A Minimum Viable Product is a simple, ‘barebone’ version of a final product designed and launched with the sole intent of gaining customer feedback and product validation.
An MVP only contains the core features essential to the product. The idea is to build and launch a basic but functional version of your product (Making it minimal but also viable).
Doing so does two important things, one it helps you understand if there is a demand for your product, and secondly it gives you access to customer feedback that helps in the rest of the development process. Both of these are massive advantages and will significantly help you align your product development efforts in the right direction.
Sure, it sounds counter-intuitive, launching an ‘unfinished’ product. But MVPs are not meant to generate revenue or maximize customer satisfaction. Instead, MVPs let you save time by entering the market early and then transitioning into incremental development.
At this point, you would be thinking, Who would buy an underdeveloped product?
As long as your product solves a real problem and does what it says, there will always be people who’ll need it. Call them early adopters or beta testers; it doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is a core group of people who either badly need or are too curious to try out your product.
These are your initial customers, who’ll buy from you no matter what, even when your apps don’t have the smoothest of animations or are jam-packed with features. Once you’ve launched your MVP, you play the waiting game. Remember, the biggest purpose your MVP serves is validating your product idea and providing you with customer feedback, so make sure you establish reliable feedback channels to make the most out of it.
Once the early customers start offering you feedback, you’ll have a good idea about what is and isn’t working with your core idea. You’ll also have more clarity on what new features to add and how to improve the user experience. Armed with this crucial knowledge, you can now double down on your development process with the confidence that you are building something your consumers really need.
At this point, it is worth noting that an MVP can be almost anything. We can have MVPs of physical as well as digital products; even services can have MVPs. For this article, we’ve confined ourselves to digital MVPs like apps and websites, mainly because they are easy to build and provide the most benefits.
Who should develop an MVP?
Knowing what an MVP is, you must be tempted to ask yourself: Does my business need an MVP?
The Answer is YES, if:
- You are entering a new market and/or have a new concept for a product or service. With novelty comes uncertainty. If you would like to validate your product idea or business model before pouring resources into its development, then going on the MVP route is the best for you.
- You would like to have more clarity on what features you should add to your existing core idea. An MVP can provide excellent customer feedback, streamlining your development process.
- Anyone trying to launch early, hoping to secure some market share, or trying to get ahead of competitors, can potentially benefit from an MVP. However, it is easier said than done. MVPs are built to test your ideas and generate feedback, don’t bank on them for building a loyal following or beating your competitors.
As stated above, product development can be an exhaustive, time-consuming process. Most businesses will not have the time to spare for the development of an MVP. It is always better to hire top mobile app developers in such a scenario to do the work for you. Having a dedicated team of developers on board saves time and drastically improves the quality of the end product.
Why build an MVP?
By now, you must already have got a good idea about the advantages of building MVPs. Here are the major takeaways:
- Minimum Risk
MVPs let you minimize risk by keeping you from overdeveloping a product or developing products the market doesn’t need. It follows the Build – Measure – Learn approach, where you start with the core features and build your way outwards, adding the extra features later.
This is obviously better than trying to build the whole product at once, without having any clue if your consumers will even need/enjoy the ‘cool features’ you painstakingly incorporate into your product.
- Customer Feedback
There is a giant gap between thinking you know what your customers want and knowing what they want. Businesses often try to adopt a consumer’s ‘point of view’ with little to no success.
With an MVP, there is no guessing. You know what your customers need and can focus on building exactly that. Customer feedback is invaluable. It saves you time and streamlines the development process, which further gives you a better shot at ensuring customer satisfaction.
- Solid Functionality
MVPs make you focus on building your core features while allowing you to avoid additional efforts that would have otherwise been a distraction. It is really good to be able to focus on your key features without having to do a thousand things at once.
Once your core features are built, the sky is the limit. This approach provides you a solid foundation for your product, which is great for scalability and improvements later down the line.
- Early Customers
As stated before, your MVP will mostly gather a small momentum after its launch. From this point on, you can leverage these early adopters and convert them into loyal fans.
If you manage to resolve the problem you promised to solve and successfully adopt the given feedback, they would love to be a part of your community (built around a product that they helped develop and grow!). A stronger userbase goes way further than any marketing campaign when it comes to the long-term adoption and success of a product.
Final remarks to consider
To recap, you’ve learned what an MVP is, who needs one, and why it matters; here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Make sure it works
When it comes to MVPs, many businesses launch either a very poor or sometimes even a non-functioning product. Please don’t do that. An MVP can be as simple as you desire, but it has to be functional. Ensure that your product works, make sure the core features are well done and in the right place and make sure it delivers what it promises.
- Incorporate Feedback
The most critical reason for launching an MVP is to generate and capitalize on customer feedback. Offer surveys, ask for reviews, ask what’s missing, ask what would take them from liking the product to loving the product. Remember that the development should be incremental and based on feedback.
- MVP don’t necessarily save you time and money
Most of the talk about building MVPs revolves around saving time and cutting development costs. While indeed an MVP is a quick and cheap way to launch your product, you still have to invest time and money in developing the final version. An MVP can cut your costs in the sense that it helps you streamline your development process, so you avoid wasting your efforts on unnecessary tangents. But it is never a replacement for the final product.
MVPs, when done right, can be incredibly beneficial to your development process. They reduce risks, generate customer feedback, and help build extremely functional and effective products.
For anyone who values efficiency, risk aversion, and informed incremental development, MVPs are the way to go. If you too wish to go down the MVP road, consider giving this brilliant guide on building a successful MVP a read.
A good MVP can be a game-changer for your product development strategy. However, it requires a ton of research, clarity, and a commitment to receive and incorporate feedback in the form of persistent and steady improvements.
We sincerely hope you find great success in your product development endeavors!