Defining Your Product as a Painkiller or a Vitamin

Rajesh Nerlikar

Product Advisor at Foster Innovation



"The idea is to know whether the customer is buying the product to solve a current problem (like you take a pain killer when you have a headache or cut your finger slicing tomatoes) or whether they are trying to prevent something bad from happening in the future (like you take a vitamin to keep yourself healthy or prevent a disease)."

Actions taken

Categorize your product based on who you are selling it to and how it is used. Here are some examples:

B2B Products:

  • Pain killer product outcomes: increase revenue (more prospects, better close rates, higher retention, more upsells) or cut costs (automate operational tasks, help my team save time)
  • Vitamin product outcomes: protect my data (identify vulnerabilities, close loopholes) or help me comply with a regulatory requirement (GDPR, DoL in the financial services space)

B2C Products:

  • Pain killer product outcomes: make daily travel less stressful (less driving, less time and money spent on parking, more convenient than public transportation) or keep me from being bored (entertain me, keep me updated on news)
  • Vitamin product outcomes: improve my health (physical, mental, financial) or help me prepare for an emergency (prep for a hurricane or wildfire, organize my emergency contact/medical information)

Lessons learned

"Once you categorize your product, it is easier to understand the customer's priorities. For instance, as you might imagine, it's easier to sell a pain killer because it's solving an urgent, top-of-mind problem. But you still have to convince customers that your painkiller is better than what they usually take (or maybe you get lucky and this is the first time they're experiencing the pain). Either scenario is good for you because there's urgency on the customer's side, but old habits die hard, and if they're feeling a lot of pain, they might not give you much time to explain why your solution is better right now. If you're selling a vitamin, it's best to understand what prompts the customer to think about the calamity your product helps them avoid, and be there at the moment it comes top of mind."

Source: Pain Killer vs. Vitamin: How Urgent is Your Customer's Need?

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Rajesh Nerlikar

Product Advisor at Foster Innovation

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