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June 2022
4 Min read

Jobs To Be Done. ​​What kind of work your product actually does

Irina Yaroshenko

International Sales Manager +4314120126

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You have created a fintech application for a bank. Someone uses it to pay for purchases, someone to pay utility bills, and someone to transfer money to relatives abroad.

Or you have your own coffee company. You buy coffee, pack it, and sell it to coffee shops. Sales hit a ceiling. You want to expand your product line and move from selling to coffee shops to end consumer sales and distribution on marketplaces. And, consequently, promote your brand.

How do you know where to start digging? 

The consumer has a different view of the market – not the same as yours. You want to sell. And the customer is trying to ‘hire’ a better product or service to make it happen.

Following this logic, Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen articulated the concept of JTBD in a Sloan Management Review article (Spring 2007) 

JTBD isn’t about the product and how to sell it cool, it’s about the key purpose for which the consumer will buy it.

Products help us become better = make progress.

Let’s take your company selling coffee beans. Sales are not growing, you feel that the niche is already occupied. You have JTBD – a strong need for change. In order to make that change, you hire a solution to help you.

At point A, you have low sales and sad employees. You have a vision of a better future where you are blowing up sales and customers are standing in line (Point B). 

So, what can be done?

  1. Conduct in-depth interviews and quantitative research with your potential target audience 
  2. Take the target audience of the product and with users of similar products of direct competitors
  3. Identify insights

You interview customers of those coffee shops that buy your coffee, and suddenly you find out that:

  • Customers want to be in tune: they go to third-wave coffee shops and drink coffee of a special brewing method
  • Customers want to communicate: they go from the office to the coffeehouse to talk to each other
  • Not lazy at the office: they don’t want to drink office coffee and prefer free coffee to good coffee
  • Lazy at home: they don’t like to wash the coffee maker or watch the brew on the cooker
  • Customers don’t care about your coffee brand, but they are ready for the wow effect and innovative offers

A solution you can think of – coffee in drips

And here’s an example of a job description that customers would hire your new product – coffee in drips:

  • They can drink delicious brewed coffee in drips right in the office
  • They don’t have to wait for the coffee to brew at home, saving themselves the trouble of washing the coffee maker
  • The drip packaging is eco-friendly and modern
  • They can attract co-workers with their scent, create an atmosphere in the office, take a few and treat your colleagues in the kitchen

So, to make a long story short:

JTBD is a way of thinking that helps you understand people’s needs and create in-demand products.

The theory looks a bit complicated and even tedious, but if you get into it and try it out, it will be of great benefit to the company as a whole and to each of its professionals in particular. Most importantly, it will benefit your clients who will become advocates for your brand.

The theory is based on 3 assertions:

* People do not buy products, but a better version of themselves (progress)

* Context determines a person’s choices

* Products are “hired” and “fired” when they stop working better than others


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