Problem-solution fit vs. product-market fit

Everyone suggests you perform market research so that whatever you build solves a problem. Your product should solve a burning issue and fit market demand. But what do ‘solve a problem’ and ‘cater to the market need’ mean?

This article will explore what it means to achieve problem-solution fit and product-market fit. We will also explore the differences between the two. 

What is a problem-solution fit?

You must have read about achieving product-market fit earlier, but there need to be more aware of the importance of having a problem-solution fit. 

Problem-solution fit defines the relationship between the problem you are trying to solve (through your product) and the solution. It is about the bridge between the problem and the product (solution) you are trying to build. The problem-solution fit is all about finding a problem and finding different options to solve it in a resourceful way. 

Finding a problem-solution fit is important for the business ideation or conceptualization process. It defines if you have the right technology, talent, knowledge, and mindset to build the solution. When chasing the problem-solution fit, you should: 

  • Identify if you are solving a real problem (and not a notional problem); 
  • Explore if there is a viable market for that solution (solution can be monetized); 
  • Gather the resources, knowledge, skillsets, and talent required to start working on the solution. 

Problem-solution fit is not about just your product/service and the audience’s pain point. It is a broader metric that defines if a solution is possible to the problem at hand. PSF is about finding answers to the following questions: 

  • Is the prospect annoyed or frustrated by the problem? 
  • How confident are you in solving a ‘real’ problem? 
  • Are there any challenges in solving the problem? 
  • Can you look for a unique perspective that might not be so obvious in solving a problem? 

What is product-market fit?

Product-market fit is about catering to the market demand or needs of the customer. Fundamentally, it is about listening to the voice of your customer, capturing their needs/pain points, and building products based on their needs. 

In the simplest terms, product-market fit is the bridge between what you are building and your audience’s needs. As a contract to problem-solution fit, this metric gives more weightage to the audience and their demands than the ‘general problems’ and their solution. 

Product-market fit comes later in the entrepreneurial journey when you seek validation for your product. It is about delivering value to the customers and meeting market expectations. 

Source: Achieving PMF

Differences between problem-solution fit and product-market fit. 

Building a startup or a small business comes with a lot of challenges. Beyond the common problems like lack of capital, idea validation, and finding customers, there are a million other things you have to take care of daily. 

Problem-solution and product-market fit help you manage many everyday entrepreneurial problems at different stages of a startup journey. 


While both are important, some glaring differences exist between problem-solution and product-market fit. The most evident is the stage during which problem-solution and product-market fit are pursued. Here are some critical differences between product-market fit and problem-solution fit in a more general sense.

Problem-Solution Fit

Here are the specifics for problem-solution fit:

  • Identifies a specific problem or pain point and corresponding solution; 
  • Focuses on creating a viable solution to a particular problem of the customer; 
  • Achieved using insights from one-on-one interviews, in-person surveys, and other qualitative methods; 
  • Helps define the initial target market, positioning, and competitive edge of the product. 

Product-Market Fit

Here are the specifics for product-market fit:

  • Powers product discovery cycle based on the needs and demands of the audience; 
  • Helps create a product that meets the exact needs of the target audience; 
  • Gathers continuous feedback to develop and improve a product for maximum scalability; 
  • PMF research happens using a mix of qualitative methods and quantitative metrics like conversion rate, retention rate, etc. 

Product-market fit is mainly a tool for validating and scaling a business. Product-solution fit is critical during the ideation stage of the business to gauge viability. Now, here’s a comparison table between the two: 

Problem-solution Fit vs. Product-market Fit

Problem-solution FitProduct-market Fit
StageIdeation & Conceptualization Stage; Before building the MVP. Validation Stage; After building the MVP. 
GoalFind the viability of a business idea or conceptGetting validation of the target market 
ApproachTesting ideas based on available market trends and macro parametersSurveying, recording, and analyzing audience insights and driving product development 
FocusStarting a businessScaling a business
Customer InvolvementDeep involvement of early adoptersInvolvement of target audience and existing user pool 
Feedback & MetricsQualitative feedback and general perception. Quantitative feedback and metrics like retention rate, conversion rate, etc. 
ImpactSets a strong foundation for building a businessCritical to growth and scalability as it helps validate the product and get more users 

Drive product-market & problem-solution fit using GapScout. 

Your audience or customers stays at the heart of whatever you are chasing — product-market fit or problem-solution fit. You must keep in touch with your potential customers at every step of your journey. 

So, why not put customer insights on autopilot by scanning online reviews about your products, your competitor’s products, and other brands in the market using GapScout? 

GapScout tracks online reviews based on your requirements and brings the latest customer insights and AI-powered sentiment analysis to help you make data-driven and customer-centric decisions at every stage of your startup journey. 

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Anmol Sachdeva
Anmol Sachdeva
Anmol is an independent content marketing consultant who loves to write actionable pieces on small business growth, marketing automation, market research, and growth as a solopreneur. Reach out on Twitter.

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