Product Strategy Questions You Must Answer

By Michael Chase. This page is available under the Creative Commons Attribution License

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Table of Contents


Product strategy is like a jigsaw puzzle. You cannot see the big picture until all the little pieces are in place.

During product strategy development, you must answer three big-picture questions:

  1. What is our market environment?
  2. Where do we stand versus that environment and our competitors?
  3. How will we compete?

To thoroughly answer these big-picture questions, you need to first assemble the details. Otherwise, you risk arriving at the wrong conclusions and embarking on a strategy destined for failure. To give your strategy the best chance for success, fill it with detailed answers to the questions in this chapter.

Phase I Questions

Market Analysis

  • What is the definition of your overall market?
  • How will you segment your market?
  • What segments are of interest?

Segments of Interest Analysis

  • What is your definition of the buyer?
  • Who are the most important buyers in the segment?
  • What are their roadmaps?
  • What are the trends and potential disruptions in their business?
  • Who are their customers?
  • What is the current and future total available market for the products made by segment members?
  • What is the customer problem that you seek to solve?
  • What impact does this problem and its solution have on the customer’s business?
  • What are the application requirements you must meet, now and over time, to solve that problem?

Opportunity Analysis for Your Business

  • What factors will drive or retard growth?
  • What is the current state of these factors?
  • How have these factors changed over time?
  • What is the outlook for these factors?
  • Will there be different factors in the future?
  • What are the key trends?
  • What are the potential disruptions?
  • Who is driving these trends or disruptions?
  • What impact will these trends or disruptions have on your business and when?
  • What is the total available market for your solution now and over time?

Most Important Opportunities and Threats

  • Based on the environmental analysis, what are your most important opportunities and threats?
  • What are the implications of these for your business?

Data and Validation Gaps

  • What critical information and data are you missing?
  • What data and assertions do you need to validate?

Phase II Questions

Historical Financials

  • What is your historical revenue and profit in the segments of interest?
  • What are the important trends?
  • What accounts for changes in historical revenue and profit?
  • Which trends do you expect to continue? Why?
  • Which trends do you expect to change? Why?

Position versus Application Requirements

  • How does your current product’s capability compare to the current market requirements?
  • What will happen to your current product’s ability to address market requirements in the future if you do not make any improvements?
  • What attributes of your product are over-designed for the application?

Historical Market Share

  • Who are the competitors seeking to solve the same customer problems?
  • What are the historical market shares among competitors?
  • What accounts for changes in historical market shares?
  • What are the important trends?
  • Which trends do you expect to continue? Why?
  • Which trends do you expect to change? Why?
  • Where do you stand versus your competitors at each of the most important customers?
  • What conclusions can you draw from historical win-loss data?

Competitor Analysis

  • What are the competitors’ products?
  • Who are their key customers?
  • What are your competitors’ value propositions and positioning?
  • What are your competitors’ strategies to beat you?
  • What are the key advantages of their products?
  • What are their key competitive issues or disadvantages?
  • How do their current products stack up to your product?
  • What are your competitors’ product roadmaps?
  • Do they have fundamental advantages or disadvantages because of product architecture choices?
  • What intellectual property do your competitors have that helps them compete?

Buying Decision Drivers

  • What are the buying decision drivers for customers in your target market?
  • What is the value model that shows the relationship between your and your competitors’ buying decision driver performance and prices?

Strategic Issues

  • Based on the environmental and situation analysis, what are the strategic issues you must address in your product strategy?

Data and Validation Gaps

  • What critical information and data are you missing?
  • What data and assertions do you need to validate?

Phase III Questions


  • What are your revenue, profit, and market share objectives?
  • Are there any financial boundary conditions or constraints?
  • Are there any non-financial, strategic objectives?

Market Strategy

  • What are your target market segments?
  • Do the segments that you are targeting change over the strategy period?
  • What market segments are you deliberately not targeting?

Market Penetration Strategy

  • Who are the most important customers to acquire in your target market?
  • Who serves them now?
  • What are the key requirements to penetrate?
  • What is your strategy to penetrate?
  • What is the timing for penetration?

Competitive Strategy

  • What is your value proposition?
  • What market positions will you take?
  • What are the competitive advantages that make your value proposition and positions true?
  • What factors are critical to the success of your competitive strategy?
  • Why is your strategy better than your competitors’?

Product Strategy

  • What products do you plan to offer over time?
  • How does your roadmap timing and content compare with your competitors’?
  • How will you address application requirements over time?
  • How will your value proposition compare to your competitors’ over the strategy period?
  • What prices do you expect?
  • What are your cost and gross margin targets?
  • What is the product architecture strategy?
  • What new technologies or inventions do you need to implement your roadmap?
  • What intellectual property will you develop?
  • What upgrades will you produce for the installed base?

Hand-Off to Execution

  • What are the major risks and plans to mitigate them?
  • What actions must the company take over the next twelve months to implement this strategy?
  • What actions or initiatives have you deliberately excluded from this strategy?
  • What is the scorecard that you will use to measure strategy execution performance?