Product Sorting

Though you and your venture team may have a very clear idea which segment your product belongs in or which features stand out most when it is put on display these ideas are often a product of our own bias’ and assumptions. To get an honest idea of how your target user sees your solution you need to see how they categorize it themselves.

Though this type of testing is best suited to physical products like drinks, foods and other consumer goods teams can also use sorting to understand how they should categorize their digital products. In truth, product sorting informs who the understood competitors are in the real world and what companies and standards users will be comparing it against.

For example, you may consider your product to be a health drink because of the vitamins you’ve added into the formula but your user may consider it’s high sugar content a bigger factor and classify it as a soft drink or special treat. Alternately, you could see your digital wellness app as a health solution but your users may view its time management and notification pause features as essential to a productivity tool.


Product sorting is useful early on in the solution validation stage as you seek to understand where your product lives in the mind of your consumer. Even if you haven’t finalized all of the features, design or branding it’s worth conducting a product sort to understand the mindset of your user - the insights you glean about your product and others in the space could help inform a crucial pivot before you spend too much time or money going down an untested path.


By giving your user the unfettered power to classify your solution without the influence of your marketing or influence you can gain insights about its natural use and potentially open the door to opportunities or understandings that would otherwise pass you by.

Supplies & Resources

Your product or solution and a wide variety of peers and competitors, a big table or blank surface to display the options in an entirely random way, a team member or two to observe, record and ask follow up questions of users after they have sorted the products. If you’re asking to sort apps you could have users sort paper logos whereas if you’re creating beverages then you’ll want to include your product in its expected packaging among a number of beverages.