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Jobs to Be Done Examples and Best Practices

The Jobs to Be Done (JTBD) approach to consumer research for innovation is popular because of its inherent ability to reshape a company’s understanding of the customer experience. Rather than staying at the surface of why consumers buy the products and services they do, Jobs to Be Done looks at consumer buying behavior from a completely different perspective.

Consumers don’t buy products or services, they “hire” those products and services to complete a specific “job.” If they fail to do that, they will “fire” those products and services and “hire” a competitor they believe will complete that job function better. 

Don’t let the term “job” fool you. The most important “jobs” your consumers are looking for you to solve for them are very rarely only superficial. There are almost always much deeper, often undeclared feelings, motivations, fears, and desires they want addressed.

This seemingly subtle shift in mindset is often the difference between those companies that achieve true innovation and those that don’t. To understand why, however, we need to look at both broad and specific examples of JTBD in action to understand the depth of the “jobs” we’re discussing. 

Wine, spirits, and beer are a great JTBD examples

The complexity of consumer drivers present in the alcohol industry is a great place to explore the intricacies and nuances of the Jobs to Be Done framework. For example, what we order to drink at a dinner party or a bar should be focused around our personal preferences alone … well, in theory. However, that is often not the case. 

When ordering a drink, particularly alcohol, in public, a lot of consumer desires, fears, and unspoken goals may be at play. That’s because, according to some, your drink can communicate a lot about you – your interests, your levels of status and sophistication, your personal style, your approach to life, your personality, and so on. 

So, rather than simply completing the “job” of being a tasty alcoholic beverage for your consumer, your customers may have other jobs they want you to complete, as well:

“I want to impress my date by appearing knowledgeable and worldly.”

“I’m feeling celebratory tonight, so I want to pick something that is indulgent and truly special!”

“I want to communicate to others that I can afford the best.”

Even non-alcoholic beverages and gift-giving are great Jobs to Be Done examples

You can even apply this same logic to the rise of the non-alcoholic beverage category, which has grown significantly more mainstream. 

“I want to enjoy the cocktail experience without the regret or health concerns that come with alcohol.”

“Even though I don’t drink, I want an adult beverage experience that is still creative, fun, and unique.”

“I don’t want to feel left out with friends when we go out to a happy hour.”

Or, let’s say you’re looking to give a bottle of wine or spirits as a gift, or you’re hosting a party for friends, family, or people you work with. What you choose to give and serve, once again, has broader implications beyond the function of an alcoholic beverage.

“I want to give a gift that makes someone feel special and seen.”

“I want to create a party atmosphere where everyone’s needs are met.”

“I want others to see me as a generous host who possesses good taste.”

A deeper look at emotional and social Jobs to Be Done examples

These emotional and social “jobs” your consumers are hiring for are some of the most critical for you to understand. Yet they are often missed or overlooked because they aren’t obvious and/or they aren’t ones your consumers will easily divulge to you. 

For example, let’s say your company sells over-the-counter motion sickness medications as one of your product lines. Yes, some of the “jobs” you solve for your consumers will most certainly include:

“I want to be able to ride in a car for more than 15 minutes without needing to pull over.”

“I want to be able to fly without getting sick or having to deal with unpleasant side effects.”

 There are also unspoken emotions in play:

“I am tired of being embarrassed and avoiding motion-based activities.”

“I want to live life freely and without limitations.”

“I’m so upset that I can’t ride a rollercoaster with my children.”

“I just want to feel normal.”

So, examples of emotional and social Jobs to Be Done for motion sickness medication might look like this:

Emotional jobs to be done 

  • “I want to enjoy motion-based activities with friends and family.”
  • “I want to avoid embarrassment in front of others before, during, and after motion-based activities.”
  • “I want to live my life more fully by taking part in activities I am currently avoiding.”
  • “I want to enjoy life with confidence and without the fear of unexpected symptoms.”

Social Jobs to Be Done

  • “I want to appear more spontaneous, social, fun-loving, and adventurous.”
  • “I want to appear healthy to others by only putting the best products in my body.”
  • “I want to live a life without unexpected or embarrassing interruptions.”

It’s these types of emotional and social components in the Jobs to Be Done framework that can make a critical difference when developing new innovations, as well as in how you develop your messaging, packaging, and go-to-market strategies.

Jobs to Be Done is a long-term investment in innovation

As the examples above demonstrate, excavating the hidden “jobs” your specific consumers are hiring for requires:

  • A commitment to shifting your mindset, wherein you embrace a willingness to set aside the way things have always been done.
  • Investing in the right resources, such as a third-party consumer research partner, so you have access to the deep insights and massive scales of data you need.
  • Setting aside your personal biases and avoiding creating unsubstantiated consumer storylines based on instinct alone, when you’re unable or unwilling to get the data you need.

 

It’s a lot of work, to be sure, but the depth and scope of truly actionable consumer insights you can achieve through Jobs to Be Done are immeasurable. However, that’s only true if you shift your mindset and commit to jobs theory properly. Jobs to Be Done is not a methodology for those looking to hack their way to short-term sales goals, nor is it an approach that can be done successfully by cutting corners.

Conclusion

A true commitment to Jobs to Be Done offers the potential to optimize your innovation process. Proper utilization of the Jobs to Be Done framework brings an understanding of customer attributes invaluable to outcome-driven innovation.

Hopefully, the Jobs to Be Done examples we’ve listed help give you a better understanding of jobs theory in practice.