Product development: Product strategy and the whole product

In product development, a company’s product strategy is based upon its business strategy. Product strategy begins with a calculated vision which points to:

  • Where a company wants to go
  • How it will get there
  • Why it will succeed

Developing a prototype

It is important to “get going” with your product. Speed is a key to success in the technology market. It is not always about being perfect—it is often about being good enough and getting to market (this applies especially for software).

If you spend too much time on engineering the product, you will miss the market opportunity. Use a prototype to test the overall product development direction with key customers. As customers provide feedback, you can revise the product and release updated versions to a market that already appreciates it.

The whole product

The whole product bridges the gap between the marketing promise your company makes to customers and your product’s ability to deliver on that promise. It includes all the products and services that are necessary to augment or complete the product so that it becomes a complete solution and lives up to its value proposition.

The four layers of the whole product

  • Generic product: the product that ships when a purchase is made
  • Expected product: the product the customer believes he buys when he orders the generic product
  • Augmented product: the idealized form of the product that provides the greatest chance that the customer will achieve his stated buying objective
  • Potential product: the apparent growth path of the benefits demonstrated by the product as it is improved, and as it is complemented and strengthened by other products and services

The concept of the whole product presents a useful tool for startups. It offers benefits for product development and planning. It helps the decision-making process for partnering, distribution, customer service and buyer motivation. For instance, considering the whole product through the eyes of your customer can assist you when deciding about possibly partnering and complementing your startup’s core offering.

Whole products and the technology adoption lifecycle (TALC)

In the Early Market, your startup must demonstrate your product’s value and the possibilities related to its applications. Technology enthusiasts (technical buyers) expect and appreciate the generic product, and will investigate its merits.

Visionaries (economic buyers) see the strategic advantage of the potential product. They need to determine whether the product’s potential advantage is worth assuming the adoption and solution issues and costs.
Startups must define the whole product to cross the Chasm and extending their reach into the Bowling Alley. Pragmatists demand expected products.

As the vendor, you must complete the product process before or during the final product adoption.

Your company must be the first to complete a whole product solution to serve a targeted customer segment. Keep in mind that whole product development depends upon removing adoption complexity.

Complete product solutions must fix currently broken processes in order to overcome the pragmatist’s resistance to adopting a product solution that carries some complexity and risk.


Kawasaki, G. (2004). The Art of the Start.London: Portfolio.
Kim, W. Chan., and Mauborgne, R. (2005). Blue Ocean Strategy.Boston: HBS Press.
Wiefels, P. (2002). The Chasm Companion. New York: Harper Business.