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Product Strategy

Product Pillars


What are product pillars?


Product Pillars

Product pillars are the core principles that define a product's identity and value proposition. They represent the main qualities a product must possess to meet its users' needs and achieve its business objectives.

Product pillars typically consist of three to five high-level themes that capture the essence of your product. These themes are usually based on the product's target market, competitive landscape, and unique selling proposition.


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Product pillars example

Let's say you have a productivity app as a product, you may have the below as your product pillars:

  1. Efficiency: The app should help users streamline their work and get more done in less time

  2. Collaboration: The app should enable users to work together with their teams and share information easily

  3. Customization: The app should be modular, allowing users to tailor it to their individual needs and preferences

  4. Simplicity: The app should be intuitive and user-friendly, with a clean and easy-to-use user interface

  5. Security: The app should be mindful and protective of users' data and privacy

Why are product pillars important?

Product pillars guide the product team as they develop and improve the product over time. They help ensure that all new features and improvements are aligned with the product's main principles and add value to the user.

Product pillars can also be helpful in marketing and communication activities, as they provide the team with a succinct and compelling way to describe what the product is about and why users should adopt it.

How can product managers define their product pillars?

Here is a step-by-step guide for product managers on how to define their product pillars:

  1. Identify your target market: Understand your target users and what needs they can fulfill using your product. Conduct customer research to identify the pain points, motivations, and behaviors of your users.

  2. Analyze the competition: Take a deep dive into your competitors' products to understand how they address user needs and differentiate themselves in the market. Identify any gaps or opportunities that your product can fulfill.

  3. Define your unique value proposition: Develop a clear value proposition that defines what differentiates your product from the competition and shows how it delivers unique value to users.

  4. Brainstorm pillar concepts: Discuss with your team and collect a list of high-level concepts or themes that capture the essence of what your product is about. Consider the needs and motivations of your target users, your unique value proposition, and the competitive landscape.

  5. Prioritize your pillars: Evaluate each of the pillar concepts you noted and prioritize them based on their alignment with your product's unique value proposition and target market. Narrow down the list to the top three to five pillars, these will guide your product development and roadmap.

  6. Refine your pillars: Iterate on your pillars and ensure they are actionable and measurable. Each pillar should be specific to your product and should help you make better decisions now and in the future.

  7. Communicate your pillars: Communicate the finalized pillars to your team and stakeholders. Make sure that everyone involved in product development understands the product pillars.

  8. Use your pillars: Let these pillars guide product development and ensure that new features and ideas are in line with your product's main principles and add value to the user experience.

  9. Review and iterate: Regularly review your product pillars based on user feedback, market trends, and changing business objectives. Your pillars have to remain relevant and effective in guiding your team and decisions.

Real-life examples of product pillars

Here are some examples of product pillars of major companies and products

Apple iPhone

  • Design: Sleek, modern, and aesthetically pleasing.

  • Performance: High-end processors and fast operation and smooth performance.

  • User experience: Simple and intuitive user interface, easy navigation, and integration with other Apple devices.

Nike Running Shoes

  • Comfort: Using the latest technologies and the best materials to guarantee maximum comfort for runners.

  • Performance: Shoes designed to enhance the performance of runners and their speed.

  • Style: Bold and unique sporty designs that stand out in the market.


  • Refreshment: A beverage that delivers refreshment and enjoyment.

  • Quality: High-quality ingredients and consistency in taste.

  • Brand image: branding and marketing that create a sense of nostalgia and happiness.

Amazon Prime

  • Convenience: A one-stop shop for a variety of products, shipped and delivered efficiently.

  • Value: Access to exclusive deals and competitive prices.

  • Customer service: 24/7 reliable customer service and simplified returns policy.

Tesla Electric Cars

  • Innovation: Latest technologies and features that offer a unique competitive advantage compared to traditional car models.

  • Sustainability: Focus on sustainability and environmental footprint by being electric instead of fuel-run.

  • Performance: Offering speed, acceleration, and sturdy safety features.

Tips for aligning product pillars with customer needs

Identifying and understanding what your customers need from a product takes time, research, and planning. Here are three tips to help make that easier for you:

Ask for and analyze customer feedback

Invite customers to share their thoughts on a product in a feedback survey. Your survey should cover multiple aspects of a customer’s experience with the product, from their views on the UI to which features they find most beneficial. Analyze all their feedback in detail and keep it in mind when defining your product pillars.

Always keep the customer's needs and pain points in mind

The more you know about your customers, the better your product pillars will align with their needs. Determine their pain points (through feedback surveys and market research), and consider what they need from your product to achieve their goals. Only include features if they are necessary, not just because your product team wants to put them in.

Focus on providing value

Any product must offer value for money. Customers investing in the finished package expect a certain level of functionality and quality in exchange for their cash. The more value you offer, the more likely a customer will return to your company and stay loyal.

How to adapt pillars to different products

Here are a few tips for adapting your product pillars to different products:

Check how well different products initially match up with your product pillars

You’ve taken the time to define your product pillars for one product, so why not see how effective they are for others your team is preparing? For example, if your top two pillars for a productivity app are efficiency and collaboration, they’re likely to match up with other work-centric products, too.

See what needs to change in the pillars and the product to make them work better

You may need to tweak your pillars and your product in multiple ways to ensure harmony. Maybe you realize that customization is less critical in a new product, but collaboration and security are more vital than ever. Making changes to pillars and products can take time, but if it leads to a better result, it’s worth it. 

Consider your customers and how their needs might differ between products

Customers may buy several products from you, and their needs and expectations for each one can differ in a big way. Study your customer data to understand the essential requirements of a product before you start work on it. 


Product Strategy

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General FAQ

What are product pillars?
Product pillars are the core principles or attributes that define a product's identity and value proposition.
How many pillars should a product have?
It is advised for a product to have around 3-5 pillars maximum. This ensures the product is focused and the team is aligned.
How to prioritize product pillars?
Prioritize product pillars just like you'd prioritize anything else using prioritization frameworks, and check each pillar against your product and company goals and customer needs. Start with the most important thing to ensure the product achieves what it needs to.
How do product pillars influence roadmaps?
As product pillars will help inform your roadmaps, they should take the peak position at the top of your strategic hierarchy. All tasks that a product team works on should support one of the pillars and contribute to the overall goal. This approach will help teams stay on target and reduce the risk of wasting time on non-essential tasks.
airfocus eBook Leveraging Product Strategy for Product and Business Growth
Product Strategy
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Product Strategy

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