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.
Let's say you have a productivity app as a product, you may have the below as your product pillars:
Efficiency: The app should help users streamline their work and get more done in less time
Collaboration: The app should enable users to work together with their teams and share information easily
Customization: The app should be modular, allowing users to tailor it to their individual needs and preferences
Simplicity: The app should be intuitive and user-friendly, with a clean and easy-to-use user interface
Security: The app should be mindful and protective of users' data and privacy
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.
Here is a step-by-step guide for product managers on how to define their product pillars:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Communicate your pillars: Communicate the finalized pillars to your team and stakeholders. Make sure that everyone involved in product development understands the product pillars.
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.
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.
Here are some examples of product pillars of major companies and products
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.
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.
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.
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.