Product Categories — Pain Killers, Vitamins, and Steroids

I’ve had the fortunate experience of working with some awesome product managers through out my career and have also been influenced by a few celebrities (Nir Eyal, Geoffery Moore, Eric Ries) who have helped shape the way I think about delivering value to customers. An analogy that Iʼve learned to leverage to classify products and the value they deliver is pain killers, vitamins, and steroids. Once you deeply understand the problem your product solves and the value it delivers, you can figure out your go to market strategy (see below — Crossing the Chasm) and so on.

Product Types

Pain Killers


Check out the summary of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products by Nir Eyal -

Graduating from Vitamin to Pain Killer

The biggest challenge product leaders faces is how to we make this happen for their products?


Products that fit into this category donʼt solve an immediate pain but customers are willing to pay for them because the value they get is obvious and customers are willing to put up with some more complexity.

Crossing the Chasm

This is relevant to us in a few ways. We can take shortcuts (i.e. MVP) to get to the innovators and early adopters, but weʼll struggle to see adoption with the mainstream market if we donʼt deliver the crisp and sharp experience that the majority (early, late, and laggards) of our customers desire. The experience we deliver as a vitamin type product becomes even more critical to get right because many of our customers may not know that they need us. The experience has to speak for itself!

If you are not meeting the adoption (# of users using your product) or revenue metrics, think critically about staying the course (with changes to technology, marketing, or business development strategies) or pivoting.

Lastly, some lessons that Iʼve learned throughout my career when thinking about delivering customer value are:

  • Obsess over customer experience
  • Define your milestones and metrics early and track them obsessively
  • Pivot early (with data and conviction)
  • Donʼt be afraid to invent
  • Take risks and fail



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