Startup

Vitamin vs. Aspirin: What Problem Is Your Startup Solving?

Is your product or service a “vitamin” or an “aspirin?” That is, does your product or service resolve an immediate pain point? Or does it increase performance in a way that may be difficult to see quickly? Essentially, what problem are you solving and how?

In this City University session, Josh and Kyle from City Innovations break down this often-used analogy about value proposition and prescribe the best fit for startups. 

Read the Recap

Vitamins vs. Aspirin

The “vitamin” vs. “aspirin” analogy really does speak for itself. You usually take vitamins to be a little proactive about your health. You want to feel better. You want to be better. But you take an aspirin when you’re hurting.

The same can be said about businesses and their offerings. “Aspirins” are demand-based businesses. Most people don’t need to be convinced to patron these kinds of businesses because they have an urgent (or painful) need that these businesses fulfill.

On the other hand, “Vitamins” are products and offerings that support longevity and vitality. They quietly improve or enhance an aspect of someone’s life. 

If your product or service is an “aspirin,” you likely won’t need to rely as heavily on advertising, but you’ll need to focus on the quality of your service. If your business is a “vitamin,” you’ll need to build a reputable brand with your product or service at the center. This analogy really takes into account the context of a market to understand the potential impact you could have and the strategy you need to follow to succeed in that space — especially as a startup. 

Nice to have or must have?

You should focus on solving a problem that people immediately pull out their wallets for. You want them to say, “This is what I’ve been looking for! This will solve my problem, big time.”

For many startups, a big reason why they fail is because they create a “vitamin” business, product, or service — something that is “nice to have” but isn’t a “must have.” 

What’s the first thing to get cut out of the budget? Nice to haves. Startups need to find a pain point, solve it, and build must-have products and services to succeed. 

This isn’t to say that “vitamin” products and services aren’t useful or that you should cast away your product or service because it falls into this category. “Vitamin” services and products help to improve performance. They provide a luxury, and there’s definitely a market for luxury products and services. 

A Real-Life Example

Consider this: You have the power to turn your “aspirin” product or service into a “vitamin” or vice versa. VOSS water is a perfect example. 

Water is a fundamental need. It would be considered an “aspirin.” But VOSS made their water into a “vitamin” by selling it as a premium product. VOSS water comes in thin, stylish, glass bottles and with a hefty price tag. But the creators of VOSS effectively took a commodity (an “aspirin”) and began marketing it as a luxury item (a “vitamin”) to increase its value. 

The Final Diagnosis

When it comes to your business or offering, what should you do? Should you be an “aspirin” or a “vitamin?” 

As a startup, it would be wise to start as an “aspirin.” First, solve your target market’s immediate problems. Then, grow and improve as a “vitamin” down the line.

At the end of the day, you need to do some deep market research and listen closely to your target market to find out what causes them pain and how you can solve it immediately (and in the long run). This sounds like a miracle pill, and that’s because it is. Your product or service offering should be a miracle pill for the right customer. 

The Rx: If you’re a startup in need of validating your idea, reach out to City Innovations today. We can help you build the right thing and get it to the right market.

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