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Can Product-Led Growth Cure Lockdown Ills?

Move aside design thinking, growth thinking has taken center-stage post COVID-19. Of course, the cycle of ‘empathize, define, ideate, prototype and test’ will go on, except that the product now needs neither selling nor marketing. It is simply adopted by the end-user. Product-led growth (PLG) is possible when a product is so nuanced and sensitive to user experience, that it spells growth for both itself and the business.

PLG is the new buzzword for companies like Dropbox, Slack, Shopify, Atlassian and Calendly. In the lockdown era, end-users were quick to recognize the value inherent in Zoom and in the timely pivot of Cure.Fit to a digital-first online fitness platform. After its offline gyms closed down in the wake of the Corona lockdown, online Cult.Fit classes have reportedly clocked 500,000 sessions daily, with 1.5 million new users signing up.

Akshay Rajwade, who heads Product & Growth at Cure.Fit, says, “It is not about doing something. It is about helping the user ‘feel’ something. A product is not just a capability, it is a purpose. That is where consumer psychology works.  Do not confuse comfort (physical) with convenience (mental). My dad will find an app to pay bills inconvenient, though it is comfortable. On the other hand, watching something on smart phones is convenient, though a desktop may be more comfortable.”

Explaining how this extends to Cult.Fit at an online event, “Fireside Chat: Product-Led Growth-New Frontiers for Product Management” with Pinkesh Shah, Director of Programs, Institute of Product Leadership, Rajwade said live online classes were being offered by Cult.Fit to fulfill the need of people who want to lead a healthy and fit lifestyle during the lockdown. 

“It is easy, accessible and engaging. We added a new feature, the Energy Meter which measures how you move and gives a comparison score. So, now the experience is not only more fun, it is also a social event.”

Such addition of fresh features to a product is part of a hypothesis-driven “growth experiment” that a product manager is expected to conduct continually. The hallmark of a great growth team, according to Rajwade, is however not the pace at which experiments are conducted, but the pace at which learning advances. If learning is not at an exponential rate, there is no growth thinking. Merely ideating and executing is a matter of luck.

Does it mean that product-led growth is a “growth hacking technique” intrinsic to the digital world? While the Cult-Fit pivot and indeed the IPL Product Leadership Festival online seems to suggest so, there is no reason why product-led management principles cannot be applied offline. About 70% of the participants surveyed online as part of the Fireside Chat said product-led growth was domain-agnostic. Examples like Airbnb, Swiggy, Uber and Facebook as PLG success stories abound.

With cross-functional teams coming together to align better for PLG as a business methodology, the product as the single largest source of sustainable, scalable business growth is well placed to drive user acquisition, expansion, conversion, and retention single-handedly.

Fireside Chat : Product Led Growth PLG – New frontiers for Product Management