Skip to main content

    Product Marketing vs. Product Management: Understanding the Differences

    By The Fullstack Academy Team

    Product management and product marketing professionals review strategy looking at a laptop.

    Product Marketing vs. Product Management: Understanding the Differences

    Understanding why customers want certain products or services is a complex process involving an accurate assessment of consumer trends, needs, and influences. This knowledge can help businesses better define their target audience and develop informed product strategies to successfully serve new and existing customers—ultimately helping businesses achieve goals with greater efficiency.

    Once a business defines its target audience, it must be able to properly reach and engage them. The two core components of this type of engagement are product marketing and product management. While both share the same end goal of getting the consumer to purchase a product or service, they are two distinct strategies featuring different approaches to reaching that goal.

    A business must know the difference between product marketing vs. product management—terms that are often conflated in general business strategy discussions. Understanding their differences can help a business build a cohesive strategy that keeps a product or service relevant to consumers throughout its life cycle.

    Product Marketing vs. Product Management: The Definitions

    Before diving into the core differences between product marketing and product management, understanding the basic elements and impact of each process is important.

    What Is Product Marketing?

    Product marketing is the process of bringing a product or service to market with the greatest possible reach and impact. It closely examines consumer behaviors to identify the target market and its needs and informs marketing campaigns around these factors. The primary objective is to ensure that the products created have optimal customer appeal and meet customer demand.

    Typically, the two phases of a product marketer’s responsibilities are the work before and after the product launches. In the prelaunch phase, product marketers determine the product-market fit (PMF) compared with competitors’ products, develop how the business will present the product, identify target audiences, and build a comprehensive marketing strategy.

    In the postlaunch phase, product marketing tasks largely involve guiding a project toward market success. This can include educating sales teams on selling points, using marketing tools to increase product demand and awareness, gathering customer feedback, and identifying weaknesses within existing campaigns. This may require making adjustments to strategies that aren’t working as initially intended.

    What Is Product Management?

    Product management involves guiding a product throughout its life cycle within the company’s budget, schedule, and marketing expectations. A product manager’s role includes developing strategies to ensure that the product remains distinct from the competition and relevant to the needs of the target audience, while also aligning with the company’s growth and stability initiatives.

    In many respects, a product manager’s role is similar to that of a project manager. Product managers coordinate multiple groups and team members in the process of creating, launching, and maintaining a product. A product manager is often responsible for the entire product life cycle, which can include research, design, sourcing, manufacturing, shipping, distribution, and merchandising. The product development timeline governs all the steps in this cycle, so a key responsibility of the product manager is to set timelines and deadlines for each step and each team’s work.

    Another focus of product management is analyzing how the market reacts to a product over time. A key component of this focus is paying attention to the macro environment, which provides a more holistic view of a product. Instead of focusing on a specific segment, such as a target audience, the macro environment will focus on conditions that can impact the economy as a whole, such as inflation, employment, and gross domestic product (GDP). These elements can provide further context on consumer behaviors and the willingness of consumers to spend money on specific products or services.

    Considering a career in product management?

    Learn more about the Fullstack Academy part-time product management bootcamp.

    Product Marketing vs. Product Management: The Differences

    The main differentiator between product marketing vs. product management is how they treat a product or service. Product management governs the effective development of a product, while product marketing involves how to get the product to the right people.

    For both roles, consumer behavior is a central concern, but with a different focus and objective. Product managers determine whether various economic conditions, customer attitudes, and consumer trends are aligned in a way that would accept a new product. Product marketing roles, on the other hand, identify exactly which population of consumers will be most interested in the product once it hits the market.

    Ultimately, the differences between product marketing vs. product management make them complementary concepts. When they’re used together effectively, a business can consistently create products that fit a market need, and then find a segment within that market that would have the most need or want for a given product. This can have a powerful impact on a business, allowing it to gain a reputation for being an industry leader with a penchant for innovation. As innovation leader Apple has demonstrated, this can drive more attention to the business whenever word of a new product gets out, contributing to growth and stability, according to Investopedia.

    Build Strategies That Lead to Success

    Having a firm grasp on consumer needs can be the difference between a product that succeeds and one that fails. While this process concludes with the development of product marketing strategies that get a product on the radar of the right customers, it starts with product management, ensuring that the market is ready to receive the product in the first place. While key differences exist between product marketing vs. product management, they ideally work together to produce effective product strategies that can help a company strengthen its bottom line.

    Fullstack Academy’s live online Product Management Bootcamp program can help you build the knowledge and skills needed to develop these strategies—creating success for both your company and your product management career. Our part-time program uses interactive technology and real-world lessons to teach the various stages of product management, from product ideation to performance analysis. Learn how we can prepare you to make a positive impact in the business world.

    Recommended Readings

    Active Learning: What Is It and What Are the Benefits?

    11 Product Management Tools and Techniques for Managing the Product Life Cycle

    What Is Product Management Leadership?


    Forbes, “Product Management Versus Product Marketing: How They’re Different and Why You Need Both”

    Indeed, Consumer Behavior: Definition, Types and Strategies

    Indeed, What Is Product Management? Definition, Strategy and Steps

    Indeed, What Is Product Marketing? (Definition, Duties and Phases)

    Investopedia, Macro Environment: What It Means in Economics, and Key Factors

    Investopedia, What Makes Apple So Valuable?

    Oracle, “Understanding Consumer Behavior and Motivations”