Why an economic downturn is Product’s time to shine

Published Dec 13, 2022

Businesses today are at a crossroads. Revenues are down, and the pressure to deliver results is up. An economic downturn poses clear challenges to companies looking to build a better tomorrow for their business. But there’s a silver lining. In meeting these challenges, organizations are forced to narrow their focus. They’re building for a better tomorrow by investing in their biggest opportunity. But what is that exactly?

In a word: their product. Partnering with Mind the Product, Pendo surveyed over 500 product professionals about how their organizations’ priorities have shifted in the wake of current economic conditions–and how their own work has changed. What we found was a recognition among businesses of the importance of product teams and their work. We also saw businesses move to rapidly embrace product-led growth (PLG) tactics as part of their greater strategy. The full results are now available in The power of Product in an economic downturn, a product management trends report.

Product as a rallying point for businesses 

Tough macroeconomic conditions raise the stakes for businesses. The consequences of failure and success become more significant–in some cases they determine whether a company even survives. Channeling that pressure, companies invest their attention and resources into what they think will generate the best business results. The survey results show that 67% of product leaders say their company has become more focused on product in today’s economic environment, while 62% say the economy has led their company to view their product role as increasingly important

On first look, this rallying around the product may seem surprising. Increasing revenues by, for example, boosting sales might seem a more natural response to current conditions. But considering a larger time horizon reveals investing in product to be a wiser move. At best, driving a big sales effort will give organizations only a short-term lift. In contrast, companies that invest in R&D during a downturn are investing in the long term. And what better place to channel those funds than product? In today’s world, after all, your product is so much more than the core services it delivers to users. It’s a sales vehicle, a marketing channel, a customer support tool. It’s how you best communicate your brand vision.

Our product-led future

Even before the current economic headwinds picked up, product was already an increasingly important role to organizational leadership. A company’s product is becoming the primary means to engage with and expand opportunities among existing customers, gain and acquire new prospects, and automate key tasks related to sales, marketing, and customer success.

The results are clear: Product teams and the work they do are more important to overall business health than ever before. 

To see our full set of findings, download The power of Product in an economic downturn here