What is Product-Centric?

Product-centric describes a company focused on the details of its products above other considerations, including its customers’ needs.

At the opposite end of the spectrum are customer-centric companies. These businesses focus on understanding their user and buyer personas, learning about their challenges, and building solutions to address those challenges.

For a customer-centric company, the product is only a means to the business’s goal: creating value for users. But a product-centric team’s primary goal is building a product they’re proud of—even if the market isn’t asking for it.

How Does a Company Become Product-Centric?

Few companies set out to become product-centric. In fact, most intend to operate as customer-centric organizations focused on meeting the needs of their users.

But over time, a company can fall into the product-centric trap for several reasons. Here are a few common examples.

Is There Value to Being Product-Centric?

If you have identified a market need for your product, you are then operating as a product-centric company. It means, for example, that your team will focus on continually improving your product.

To the extent that the product you offer serves an unmet need of customers, putting more resources and creativity into enhancing the product. By improving the product, you can improve your company’s position in the market.

But keep in mind that what customers want is not necessarily the best-made product, and they want the product that best meets their needs. Your user persona, for example, might want a product that emphasizes simplicity and offers only a few features. If your team continuously adds new tools and functionality, it might become less valuable to customers over time.

What Does it Mean to Be Product-Centric in a Marketing World?

We also want to address a common misconception. Product-centricity does not mean the same thing as being product-led. Product-led growth is a marketing strategy—and it’s a great one. But as we point out in a recent article, the best product-led organizations take a customer-centric approach, not a product-centric one.

Our favorite example is Slack. The team collaboration app takes the product-led approach in that the makers of Slack let the app sell itself. Slack benefits from the network effect: the more users you know who use Slack, the more valuable the app becomes to you. As a result, Slack users encourage their colleagues and friends to sign up for the app, which is the product-led marketing model.

Being product-centric as a marketing strategy, by contrast, is much less likely to succeed. Moreover, a product-centric growth model should inform the market about your product’s features and specifications. Furthermore, the emphasis should be on the product—not customers’ goals, challenges, wants, and needs.

If your company has fallen into the product-centricity pitfall, you should work to turn your culture into the customer-centric model.

Related Terms

customer empathy / end-user era / needfinding / design thinking / product-led growth