Innovation In Lending

Looking beyond market pain points to find purpose

Aimee Lane
March 28, 2024

What is "Purpose Market-Fit" & why is it so important?

The first essential ingredient to successful innovation? Product Market-Fit. 

This is when a solution is created that solves a pain point and satisfies a market need, and all the stars of pricing, packaging, target market, and positioning align to create demand. When Product Market-Fit is found — especially in the ever-evolving world of tech — it signals that this innovation has the potential for success.     

Products with Product Market-Fit ultimately help solve a buyer's pain point and achieve specific goals, all at a price that balances the value and ROI they get from the product. Product Market-Fit is table stakes for a solution to survive in a market saturated with innovation. 

That brings us to the idea of Purpose Market-Fit, which is how companies like Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s, or Impossible Foods rise above competition in the eyes of consumers. Not only are they dedicated to the quality of their product — they’re committed to bringing impactful change to the world through their brand. 

This is what every brand can aspire to, whether they’re B2C or B2B solutions. Purpose Market-Fit is what every buyer should seriously take into consideration. For organizations in particular, investing in a product doesn’t need to end at simply supporting internal needs, especially when a product can seamlessly extend a business's ability to support its communities and larger societal goals. And the market can see the difference. Choosing the product or brand that not only offers the quality and utility needed but also offers an opportunity to feel good about spending money on it is a win-win.

For financial institutions, the health of their customers and communities is connected with the health of their organizations. So, at the highest level, investing in products that support a greater good makes good business sense. Take Zest AI’s partnership with our clients as an example of Purpose Market-Fit: not only are lenders gaining the benefits of a useful AI tool, but they’re also extending the benefit of deeper, more accurate insights and greater inclusion to all the people they serve.

Let's examine how investing in a product with Purpose Market Fit can uplevel a lender's marketability beyond factors like increased productivity, cost reduction, or improved accessibility.

What makes a product stand out from the rest?

A product — and similarly the market need for a product — fits quite nicely into the psychological theory of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow argued that humans are first motivated to fulfill basic needs like finding security, food, and getting rest. As we move up the pyramid, the desires become more complex — all coalescing under the idea of “self-actualization.” People ultimately desire meaning and purpose, and brands should mimic that call to action since our audience is made up of humans. That’s what Purpose Market-Fit helps a business do.

Consumers want a brand that builds a vision of a better world and acts on it, but not always in the ways of the past. The public interest in a brand’s opinion on sociopolitical platforms has decreased, now at 41 percent, but interest has risen on companies taking accountability and action for their employees and the climate. Over 80 percent of Americans believe businesses should make money ethically and compensate all workers fairly, but less than one-third think businesses are effectively doing both.  

How and why you do business matters, whether the public is paying attention or not. When we apply Purpose Market-Fit to our business practices, we can meet consumers with both intention and impact.

Intention and impact: taking care of business

Intention and impact are the two metrics that can point out whether a business is achieving Purpose Market-Fit.

Intention

How your business uses its innovation, energy, and even money matters when it comes to Purpose Market-Fit. How you design your product matters, who designs it matters, who tests it matters — the list goes on. For products that directly impact the lives of individuals being served, like AI-automated credit underwriting, intention needs to be embedded at every level. Soup to nuts, building a product with a diverse group of people, basing that product on ethically sourced, diverse data sets, and ensuring that the product is accessible and useful to a multitude of consumers matters.

Intention is the backbone of Purpose Market-Fit, and it’s what takes a product beyond simply solving a particular pain point or problem. Intention takes us from efficiency in the process to an evolved sense of a brand’s “self.”

Impact

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So, the secondary piece of Purpose Market-Fit is proving that your company is making the impact it intended to make and finding out how to do more.

This doesn’t mean that any brand that has failed in making the impact they set out to make can’t achieve Purpose Market-Fit. In fact, it could be a wake-up call and a time to make resolutions to do better.

A company can’t have Purpose Market Fit without first having a product that’s serving its intended customers, but the true challenge (and it should be the goal) in today’s world is to take a product from simply fixing a problem to serving a greater good through a defined purpose and creating change.

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