Product Category Research Playbook​

i.e How do we study a product category and come up with a MVP version?​

The goal of the Product Category research is to study the established products in a given category and come up with an easy MVP version in about 5 days . This guide lays out the process for the product manager to detail the product. This playbook is only for products that have been validated in the market, i.e there are existing successful products and the product market fit has been established.


  1. Identify the product (or set of products in the category) that you want to study. For ex: If you want to study the Individual Productivity category, your set could include Todoist, etc… Write down why you want to build an ‘easy’ version in the selected product category? (Time: 1 hour)
  2. Understand and document about 10 real life use cases of the product. This step should solidify who the users are for a particular product and what is the exact value they are getting out of it. You will have to find this information from real case studies from the internet (usually the product’s website). Optionally, you can also talk to current users of that product and understand the main value they are getting. Ex: Search for “Todoist Success stories/ Todoist case studies etc..’ . In Todoist case, you will see the various success stories on their community page. At the end of this exercise, it should be very clear who the users of the product are and what are the domain concepts of that product. List down the users and domain concepts. (Time: 2 hours)
  3. Experience the app and its features. Write down each feature of the app in the form of a user story. Do not rush this step. The product you are studying is the outcome of many people working on a single product for many years. The more detailed your user story is, the better chances you are going to build a meaningful product. You could also continue to do this exercise to capture more user stories from other similar products. Additionally, you could also write down new user stories to differentiate the ‘easy’ product. (Time: 8-16 hours)
  4. Mark the user stories that you would like to build in your product’s MVP. Build LowFi versions of those user stories in Figma and write down the acceptance criteria details for each user story. Present to the peer group at this point and get feedback. (Time: 8 hours)


Note: All the following steps need to be done by a single person – the product manager. No relying on others for design or screen mocks help. This will force the product manager to develop rounded skills and quickly define a product. We are optimizing for ourselves to build multiple products quickly. One less thing to worry about is dependency on others.