Harvard professor Clay Christensen has a great new book called Competing Against Luck.
He tells a thought-provoking story about McDonalds and milkshakes to demonstrate the point that consumers hire a milkshake to do a job.
Jobs To Be Done
McDonald’s has world-class marketing teams with oceans of data. They had an issue they were wrestling with a few years ago, trying to understand how they could increase consumption of milkshakes. They conducted conventional focus groups and interviews and asked consumers of McDonald’s milkshakes how to make them better.
What they did was improve the milkshake adding all sorts of flavors and bells and whistles only to find that sales stayed flat. They didn’t understand what they did wrong.
So Clay brought this idea of jobs to be done to help them understand milkshakes.
There is a job that arises in the life of a product -a milkshake, for example, that causes consumers to hire a milkshake to get the job done.
Why does a consumer hire a milkshake?
Clay’s colleague observed people for hours buying food at McDonald’s. When did they buy the milkshakes, did they eat them in the restaurant, did they take them with them into their car, did they buy other food with it?
Like anthropologists, they studied how people used milkshakes to help them understand what job they hired the milkshake to do.
More than half of all milkshakes were purchased before 8:30 and it was the only thing they bought; they were alone, and they drank it in the car on their way to work.
The next day, they asked customers who were walking out of McDonald’s with a milkshake in hand, thinking about the last time they were in the same situation and you didn’t “Hire” a milkshake – what did they “hire” for that job?
They all said they had a long and boring drive to work. Each person needed something to help them stay engaged in life, and they needed to consume it with one hand on the wheel.
They weren’t extremely hungry, but they needed something to help them through the morning. Sometimes they hired a banana to do this job, and it wasn’t great at the job.
They also occasionally hired donuts or bagels – each had its headache associated with it. Bagels are tough because they needed to put cream cheese on the bagel.
But the milkshake takes 23 minutes to drink because of its thick. It filled them up, kept them company and fits in their drink holder. It does the job better than snickers, donuts, bananas, bagels and coffee.
In the past, McDonald’s was improving milkshake on “milkshake dimensions” not for the job it was hired to do.
When they started to make it thicker and last longer and make it easy to grab and go on the counter, sales increased seven-fold.
How big is milkshake market? It is much bigger than the sum of milkshakes sold at fast food change because it competes with bananas, donuts, bagels and so on. The opportunity for milkshakes is bigger than the milkshake market.
Customer rarely buys what company thinks it is selling.
When you understand why your customers hire your product or service, you can improve their experience and better serve their needs.
Why do customer hire your product or service and what do they need it to do?
Do you understand why people hire your product or service? If not, let’s shake things up. Text me at 919 720 0995.