Is your product a “must-have” according to this definition?

Edited excerpt from Must-Have vs Nice-to-Have SaaS Products by David Cummings:

A must-have product fundamentally alters the way works gets done — either changing existing processes to be 10x better or unlocking new value that wasn’t previously achievable — and once used, companies will never go back. A nice-to-have product provides some value — perhaps being twice as good as doing it by hand or with spreadsheets — yet isn’t valuable enough to compel a critical mass of adopters. Apps that unequivocally help companies make more money, like marketing automation, are a must-have.

(1) Not sure this is a convincing definition of a must-have product. What about Gmail? Did it “provide a 10x improvement” over Yahoo! Mail or Hotmail,  “unlock new value”, or “fundamentally alter the way work gets done”? I don’t think so, but many people regard Gmail as a must-have product.
(2) So here’s an alternative definition, using the Job To Be Done framework: “A must-have product enables you to (i) get a job done which you otherwise couldn’t get done at all, or (ii) get significantly more of the job done, or (iii) get the job done in a significantly less painful way.”
(3) Whether a product is “must-have” is always relative to the alternatives. See, for example, the focus on alternative solutions in How to conduct customer cancellation interviews in the “Job To Be Done” framework.
(4) Can you come up with a better definition of a “must-have” product than this?

5 thoughts on “Is your product a “must-have” according to this definition?

  1. There’s an angle on this in the context of SaaS vs. premise, or to his point the extent that many SaaS applications are competing with a spreadsheet. In that context then the 10x maxim seems to apply (at least from an investment in time/money standpoint). Your point on Jobs to be Done is valid, and maybe from the standpoint of putting the product in a disruption framework -> does is change the pricing or barriers to entry in such a fundamental way that it grows the addressable opportunity to such an extent that the existing market or buyers/consumers is less relevant. I’d put gmail in that category.

    • Rich, I think you’re right about the 10x maxim when the competition is a spreadsheet. Part of the reason is that a new SaaS product requires the user to learn a new system and user interface, including new login credentials. That’s a heavy tax on the user, and must therefore be justified with a huge increase in value for the user.

  2. Pingback: ‘Must have’ products | THE EQUITY KICKER

  3. Pingback: The heart of any growth strategy is core product value | A Founder's Notebook

  4. Gmail was a must-have product when it came out because it offered massively more storage than all its competitors. That meant that you never needed to delete existing emails in order to make space for new ones and that people sending to you never got the infamous “your email was rejected because the recipient’s space is full” message.

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