What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey


Problem Insight

Customer research
Customer empathy map
Customer journey map


Value Proposition

What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey


Problem / Solution

What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey


Iterate, Pivot, Persevere

What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey


Measuring P/M Fit

What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey


Common Challenges

What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey



What is Product Market Fit?
Why is it important?
How do I separate product and market?
The Product Market Fit Journey

You started with a pain point, or a passion, or a hunch. Now we’re going to go out and learn as much as we can about whether or not the problem really exists, to what extent, if people might pay for a solution, and we’ll identify who feels the problem the most.

Through these activities, you’ll build a solid understanding of the pain points, customer problems, and market opportunity before jumping into building an MVP.

Customer Research

Quantitative Research

Demonstrating the market opportunity and painting a broad picture of a population. Can be used to validate insights from qualitative research with a broader population.

For B2B, this will be “firmographics” such as industry, company size, stage, financing, etc.

Psychographic & behavioral
Attitudes, opinions, values, product usage data. 

Users vs Buyers
For B2B, distinguish between the economic buyer and the other stakeholders involved as their needs will be distinct. 

Availability and use of alternatives
Products, penetration, pricing for alternative offerings and target customer usage trends. 
Technology lifecycle adoption - Current stage of your product market in the adoption cycle - will you be targeting innovators and add segments over time?

customer research.jpg

Qualitative Research

Gleaning customer insights & understanding aspirations, frustrations, rationales, preferences. In-person interviews Structured 1-1 conversations, typically “intercepts” with passerbys or targeted potential users Focus groups Interactive, facilitated small group discussions about participants feelings, opinions, attitudes, or beliefs In-home visits Interviews with a participant held within their household (or place of business) Ethnographic research Observing human behavior in as natural surroundings as possible, such as watching a customer make a purchase or shadowing an agent as they go about their day


In-person interaction examples

Simulated Activity
Present participants with images of common expenses, then give a hypothetical amount in play money. Ask them to allocate it as they would in real life.

Use Cases
Present participants with cards with examples of different instances when a transaction was needed (school fees, bills), then ask how they would (or how they have) physically delivered money into the intended recipient for each.

Sacrificial Concepts
Present participants with concepts or product ideas that can be sacrificed or discarded if they don’t like or understand them. Ask participants their impressions and opinions.

Extreme, Mainstream
Talk with both extreme and mainstream users of a product or service to understand the needs of fringe users that might be appealing or early adopters.

Phone show-and-tell
Ask people to show you their phone and walk you through how they send messages, use apps, play games, send money, pay bills, etc.

Intercept Interviews
Stop people on the street or in a market to ask them questions. Great to test smaller hypotheses, or understand the context.


Customer Research Tips

  • Publicly available data may be limited and fragmented, making it tough to reach a representative total or extrapolate results to the full national population.
  • Data on existing behaviors is limited, and needs and preferences will be difficult to assess with secondary research or web/phone surveys.
  • Infrastructure challenges will make it difficult and expensive to administer surveys at a large scale. End-customers will have limited awareness of products and service, and often negative experience with formal financial services.
  • It’s important to build a culture of customer empathy, putting customer experience at the center.
  • Pay attention to norms, whether religious, cultural, gender, etc. Avoid judgement and unhealthy power dynamics, and be aware of privacy and security risks around your presence or conversation topics.
  • Make sure someone on your team speaks the local languages. Use visuals whenever possible.
  • Respect people’s time and consider incentives, particularly if you’re asking them to forgo work and daily income.
  • Your team needs to get really good at listening closely to what customers say, repeating statements back to ensure understanding, and asking additional probing questions. Customer needs are like onions -- they have multiple layers, each with a deeper layer under them.
  • The reasons why customers find certain benefits valuable are what you want to focus on as those will help you better understand how customers think and what they care about.
  • During customer Interviews, different customers will use different words to describe the same idea, and responses will vary widely in how high-level or specific they are. Be prepared.


A persona is a hypothetical archetype based on real people that represent your target customers which can help to ensure everyone in the company is aligned with the same target customer as you’ll write it down and share it.

The key is to select specific characteristics of a number of people you’ve encountered into one holistic portrait.

Good personas should fit on a single page & include:

  • Name, photo, quote that conveys what they care about, job, demographics.
  • Needs/goals, motivations and attitudes, behaviors.
  • Frustrations, pain points with current solutions.
  • Understanding/expertise in the relevant domain.
  • Product usage context (i.e. smart phone in an off-grid village). 
  • Technology adoption life cycle segment (innovators).

CGAP Customer Experience Workbook

For B2B businesses, your persona tool is an Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) to define an ideal customer by more than four factors (company size, industry, geography revenue, pains, needs, etc.)
ICP framework from TOPO
Building your ICP

Persona Creation Tips

  • Like any tool, personas can be misused or misunderstood. They can lack complete information, be based on pure speculation.
  • Could also contain too much information to be valuable in informing design decisions.
  • Don’t spend a ton of time trying to get the persona perfect now. Look at this as a first draft you’ll revise as you go through the PMF process.
  • Even if you have a great persona, the rest of the team might ignore it. It’s important to refer to it as you make design decisions.
  • This isn’t a one-time activity where you create a persona and then stop talking to customers.

Customer empathy map

An empathy map is a collaborative tool teams can use to gain a deeper insight into their customers. Much like a user persona, an empathy map can represent a group of users, such as a customer segment.

Aim to complete an empathy map after user research, and before jumping into your value prop or product requirements. It’s a useful tool for distilling and organizing qualitative data from interviews, focus groups, etc.

customer empathy map.JPG

Customer Journey Map

Needs often extend beyond a target customers direct engagement with a product, so it’s important to understand where you have the best opportunity to engage them and influence choices.

Customer journey maps are a tool that captures an individual journey through a specific product or service experience. Typically generated for each persona for your target customers, this tool is best developed as a group activity that captures and synthesizes knowledge gained from customer-facing interactions.

Customer Journey Mapping Process

  • Understand context - determine which journey you want to characterize with the journey map.
  • Define process stages in the journey (i.e. awareness, selection, payment, upgrade).
  • Detail the touchpoints with your brand, product, staff. Describe what the customer does at each.
  • Fill in qualitative customer data (thoughts, feelings, attitudes).
  • Understand your moments of truth, or highs/lows of experience that iluminate insights and opportunities.
 Customer Journey Map from Janalakshmi, India From  CGAP Customer Experience Toolkit

Customer Journey Map from Janalakshmi, India From CGAP Customer Experience Toolkit

Other Resources

User Research

Data Analysis

Customer Segmentation

  • CGAP Customer Segmentation Toolkit and Workbook
  • Averages Lie: Using Smart Segmentation to Find Growth – McKinsey.
  • Cluster Analysis and Segmentation – INSEAD Business School.
  • Handbook of Market Segmentation: Strategic Targeting for Business and Technology Firms – Art Weinstein
  • Latent Class Analysis – MarketResearch.org.
  • Market Segmentation: Conceptual and Methodological Foundations – Michel Wedel and Wagner Kamakura
  • Market Segmentation: How to Do It and How to Profit From It – Malcolm McDonald and Ian Dunbar
  • Rediscovering Market Segmentation – Harvard Business Review.
  • Segmentation and Positioning for Strategic Marketing Decisions – James H. Myers
  • The Many Faces of the Poor: Mass Market Segmentation - CGAP
  • Mystery Shopping Infographic - CGAP
  • Power of Micro-segmentation - CGAP
  • Segmentation: A Tool to Enhance Activity Levels - CGAP
  • Segmentation of Smallholder Households - CGAP
  • Segmenting the “Bottom of the Pyramid” in Mexico - CGAP

Next page: Problem Insight

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