What Is a Minimum Lovable Product? Comparing and Contrasting MVP vs MLP vs MMP

Article by:
Maria Arinkina
8 min
There exist several kinds of "minimal" products you can go for as you begin development. But which type should you choose for your project? Let's find out how a minimum viable product differs from a minimum lovable product and a minimum sellable product.

Opting for the minimal path when developing a product is becoming more customary than going after building something big and complex right off. However, many entrepreneurs have different opinions about what's enough to be considered a "minimum product" (MP). Are there some standards in this respect?

Actually, there are several types that you can choose from. On this page, we'll help you differentiate a minimum viable product vs minimum lovable product and explain how it differs from a minimum marketable or sellable product.

What Is a Minimum Viable Product (MVP)?

Perhaps, this is the most familiar one of all MP types. Providing a simple MVP definition, a minimum viable product implies creating a basic version of the product with a minimal feature set that's necessary to satisfy the target audience's needs. It is used to verify product hypotheses, validate ideas, get feedback, and make improvements before investing in the creation of a full-fledged product.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Defined

Going for a basic product version has multiple benefits. As such, it helps businesses save time while reducing the risk of failure (after all, the overall startup failure rate is very high).

Moreover, the MVP cost is visibly lower than the resources required to build a large-scale or complex product. It may be a scaled-down or shrunk version of the product-to-be with few features, however, it's a functioning solution that people can interact with and use (this is the major difference between an MVP and prototype or product demo).

‚ÄćMVP launch allows you to quickly deliver a functioning solution to the market and start testing it with early adopters and the target audience. Their feedback provides insights that will help:

  • better understand the customers' needs and preferences;
  • identify the features they like and dislike;
  • learn how to make improvements and tailor the product;
  • find out whether the project is even worth it.

What Is a Minimum Lovable Product (MLP)?

A minimum lovable product takes it a few steps up. Although it also aims to provide a functional solution to a user's problem just like an MVP does, an MLP also puts in extra effort in design to deliver a desirable product that'll bring value early on and that the audience will love.

Making the product's design attractive and logical is done to ensure that the user's experience with the solution is seamless. If people truly enjoy this early version of the product, this will raise the chances of creating an emotional connection with the target audience. Certainly, it'll take a bigger startup budget and additional time to bring an MLP to life.

Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) Definition

Why bother? A flawless user experience is integral for products that aim for long-term success. People are accustomed to and hungry for appealing designs and expect the utmost usability. They get easily irritated by irrational element placement, slow page loading time, or the necessity to figure out how to use a feature. Modern users quickly get disappointed by extra steps, uncalled-for movements, taps, clicks and scrolls, awful fonts and colors, or generally poor UX/UI decisions, causing them to abandon the product and flee.

That's why some entrepreneurs believe that a simplistic MVP might not be enough and that it's worth creating an MLP minimum lovable product that clings and can get a user excited about the upcoming changes. It's somewhat similar to building in public when users are engaged in molding the product from an early stage and are looking forward to the big releases of the entire product in the future.

Like an MVP, an MLP product isn't feature-packed. But the quality of its small feature set raises the chances of obtaining a customer base of those who'll continuously use it and enthusiastically recommend it to others. An emotional response can have the desired effect in terms of retention and word-of-mouth promotion in this case.

Certainly, a user-friendly minimum lovable product also values feedback, hence various startup analytics and other data are gathered and evaluated regularly. This ultimately helps iterate the plan and build a better product.

What Is a Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)?

Nonetheless, there's another type of MP that's somewhat in between the two "minimums" we've talked about earlier. What's an MMP?

A Minimum Marketable Product (MMP), which is also referred to as a Minimum Sellable Product (MSP), is often seen as the step that follows the MVP in an attempt to become sellable. It may go before the MLP.

In essence, an MMP/MSP is a consequent version of the product that's fitted with additional functionality and is better polished than the early MVP that was initially launched. Its aim isn't testing an idea. Instead, it focuses on prioritizing features and enhancing this minimal set so that it can be offered to clients and bring a return on investment and profit.

Minimum Marketable Product (MMP) Definition

As such, you can have an MMP if you've gone through several MVP iterations and made improvements based on the early adopters' opinions and your observations. It's not a full-scale product yet, but this extended and upgraded version can come with a broader feature range and be more elaborate in terms of marketing and sales initiatives. The quality is much better than before, but there's still a long way to go until the final version of the product that'll be released in the future.

Importantly, an MMP is usually more focused on making a profit, getting users to pay, and achieving even more precise product-market fit. Bottom line: you can attempt to start selling the MMP while you continue to work on the rest of the intended functionality.

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MVP vs MLP vs MMP: How Do They Differ?  

In a nutshell, these approaches to product development mainly differ in the end goal and focus. They are applied to quickly test the product out in the real world, monitor the product performance metrics, and get feedback. They are only an embodiment of what the product will grow to become in the future (they are its early abridged resemblance).

Mentioning some MVP benefits, it is light, simplistic, operational, and functional, with no excess features or elements. Nonetheless, a minimum lovable product wants to not only solve user problems but also live up to their expectations in terms of quality, design, and usability. This can get people more attached and possibly loyal even to this early version of the product. Put differently, delighting users with the provided experience is an MLP cornerstone. MMPs/MSPs, on the other hand, focus more on making money off the current product version.

To wrap up the described above, here's a simple table comparing a minimum lovable product vs MVP and MMP/MSP.

Minimum Viable Product (MVP) Minimum Lovable Product (MLP) Minimum Marketable Product (MMP)
Often a starting point that a product launch kicks off with Could be subsequent to the first pilot launch with more UX/UI emphasis Could be subsequent to the first pilot launch with more features
Usually focused on functionality and the minimal feature set Aims to create an emotional connection with the user Making the product sellable even with few features is the main goal
Is used to test an idea as quickly and cheaply as possible Is used to test an idea and differentiate the product on the market Is used to attempt to make the product's early verion profitable
Doesn't concentrate too much on flawless UX/UI and design Requires more effort and investment in UX/UI and design Is a result of several iterations of the initially launched MVP

MVP vs MLP vs MMP: When to Use Them?

Choosing which of the paths to go for can be a confusing call. To recap, all three aren't full versions of the product. They're compressed but can help verify your ideas and make a better solution, aimed toward product-led growth. Let's go over the MVP vs MLP comparison and the main differences between the concepts.

MVP vs MLP vs MMP Comparison

When Should You Choose an MVP?

An MVP is aimed at creating a quick and functional solution for testing ideas and validating assumptions without pouring in too many resources. Interestingly, there even exist such types of MVPs that don't require having a product at all!

This approach is business-oriented and provides a minimal set of features that are capable of solving users' pain points. There are many MVP examples of renowned companies, and this path certainly makes sense if your product is innovative and unique.

If validation is your primary concern and you're short on time, then you can start with agile minimum viable product creation. This is the kind of solution that you can learn from, finding answers to the majority of questions without substantial resource input. You'll collect data, analyze your findings, and discover whether there's a need to make a business pivot. You'll then make conclusions about the demand and need for your solution and, if so, how to proceed with advancing it.

When Should You Choose an MLP?

On the other hand, an MLP brings usability and user-friendliness to the forefront. It's user-oriented and strives to deliver a product that people will enjoy interacting with and focuses on the MVP design, interface, and the overall experience to get a loveable product as a result. This path can be your after MVP step but is also reasonable when your product isn't the only one of its kind on the market, and your design can be the factor to help it stand out from the crowd. This is what sets apart the two when comparing an MVP vs MLP.

If you're more concerned about usability and getting an emotional response, then it might make sense to spend more time building a minimum lovable product with MVP tools for designers. An MLP is all about refining the UX/UI of your product so it becomes more pleasant to use, which may lead to a more loyal customer base that anticipates your next steps. Most likely, this isn't the version of the product that'll bring you money just yet.

When Should You Choose an MMP/MSP?

Finally, an MMP/MSP is a more advanced version of the product with extra features that are beyond meeting the basic means. Its goal is to generate revenue, provide more value to the target audience, and expand to a wider market. If you strive to start making a profit sooner, then you need this MP type.

An MMP/MMS is the result of MVP testing methods and several alterations of the product. It's also business-oriented and can help deliver a better offering to the customer who might be willing to pay for the product in its current version (before you release all the features that are planned in the Maximum Viable Product or the final large-scale version).

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Concluding Thoughts on the MLP vs MVP vs MMP Comparison

As you see, starting small also has its options. You can opt for the simplest minimum viable product for validation, the minimum lovable product for creating a loyal following, or work on growing the initial version to become a minimum sellable product that'll bring you revenue. The optimal choice depends on your goals, yet all three paths ultimately revolve around building something the target market needs and that lives up to their expectations.

If you need a hand with your product, Upsilon provides MVP development services for startups, so we can help create a decent product that your customers will like in short timeframes. Feel free to use our MVP calculator to get a hint at how much your project might cost, and don't hesitate to contact us to ask questions and get a consultation!

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