Every year, close to 30,000 new products hit the market, yet a staggering 95% of them end up failing. It raises a curious question: Considering that these products are launched by driven and smart individuals, why is the failure rate so remarkably high?
Initially, it might seem a bit puzzling. In the current era, we have unparalleled resources to gather and utilise customer data. It appears that we possess all the necessary information to enhance this process. But, in reality, that’s not the case.
The issue arises because most product development approaches concentrate extensively on identifying connections between customer types and their broad requirements, neglecting a crucial aspect. What’s often overlooked is understanding what a customer is specifically aiming to achieve in a particular situation.
Introducing the Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) research method. This strategy allows businesses to pinpoint the essential tasks a person performs, the results of those tasks, and how achieving those results influences how users feel. In essence, JTBD empowers innovators to create products that genuinely meet the immediate needs of customers.
What is Jobs To Be Done Research?
Jobs To Be Done (JTBD) research involves breaking down customer actions into specific steps. By understanding each step and the reasons behind them, innovators can create products and solutions that match customer behaviours.
Take ice cream, for instance. People don’t just buy it because it tastes good; they also purchase it to mark special occasions like birthdays. In this context, the “job” of ice cream is to serve as a tool for celebrations and to express care. By recognizing this job, we can figure out which new flavours might work and even consider adding party-related extras. Essentially, these are things that help ice cream do a better “job” of enhancing celebrations.
How Jobs To Be Done Counters Typical Product Development Pitfalls
When it comes to creating new products, organizations often follow either the “ideas first” or “needs first” approach in product development. However, both of these methods have their own set of drawbacks.
The “ideas first” approach suggests that you should generate a bunch of ideas rapidly, then promptly develop, test, and figure out which ideas will succeed and which will fail. Imagine that wall covered in Post-it notes with all your fantastic ideas – that’s essentially the “ideas first” approach in action.
While the “fail fast, fail forward” approach might seem attractive, it comes with significant issues. Simply having more ideas doesn’t necessarily mean having more good ideas. Additionally, because the customer’s needs might not be clearly defined, the process of filtering which ideas to test can be flawed. Moreover, customers may not be aware of the exact solution they need, so presenting them with a partially developed solution may not fully address their needs.
Now, let’s shift to the second common approach: “needs first.” In this method, companies focus on understanding customer needs and then work on building products that cater to those needs. Although this incorporates the customer’s perspective into the product development process, it also presents its own set of challenges.
Firstly, it presupposes that everyone within an organization is on the same page regarding the needs of their customers and how to articulate those needs. However, this assumption is often flawed. Moreover, when customers provide feedback, there’s always a level of interpretation involved. The language customers use might have nuances that differ from the understanding of a product development team. This leads to ineffective customer needs statements, resulting in products that fall short of expectations.
What Should A Jobs To Be Done Research Project Entail
When beginning JTBD (Jobs-to-be-Done) research, the focus is on observing the actions related to a particular activity. This helps in, 1) identifying the specific tasks a person intends to accomplish, 2) defining the results they expect to attain from performing those tasks, and 3) revealing the emotional aspects linked to the completion of those tasks.
1. Core Functional Job To Be Done
The primary task a user has to perform is referred to as the core functional job. It could involve tasks like “create weekly performance reports,” “respond to customer queries,” or “review daily expenses.” Importantly, this core functional job isn’t tied to the specific product, technology, or service the user uses for the task. Instead, it’s the fundamental activity the user must accomplish, irrespective of the tools they employ.
These core functional jobs are consistent across end users and are universal, regardless of the industry or location. When identifying these core functional jobs, you might identify around 40 or 50 distinct tasks because you are closely examining and isolating the routine, practical activities that users engage in daily.
Consider a bag brand aiming to tap into the post-maternity market as an illustration. Employing the Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) framework, the brand begins by examining how new moms carry and manage baby-related items. These are essentially the various “jobs” performed by items designed for carrying things. This examination might involve observing how items are transported in strollers, the utility of portable compartments in cars, and the functionality of large bags with numerous pockets.
In all these instances, a fundamental question needs exploration: What purpose does the item serve in each scenario? What is its job? It could be about transporting items from one place to another, ensuring there are backup supplies for emergencies, or having something readily available to entertain the baby. The specifics emerge only when you delve into the actual “job” of each item.
2. Desired Outcome Of The Core Functional Job
After pinpointing the fundamental tasks that a product or service must fulfil, you can uncover the fundamental motivations driving those tasks. These sought-after outcomes are specific and quantifiable, essentially serving as the criteria for measuring the success of those tasks. By identifying these desired outcomes, you establish concrete and objective standards for assessing how users will determine if a product or service can deliver improved or more dependable results.
Let’s stick with our bag brand example. While examining all the various tasks performed by items designed to carry or transport things for new moms, we’re likely to discover several specific outcomes:
– Ensure essential items (like diapers) are readily accessible.
– Have items that can calm a baby or prevent fussiness.
– Carry things necessary for maintaining a presentable appearance.
All these represent specific, measurable goals that a mom aims to achieve by using tools designed for carrying items around.
3. Social and Emotional Dimensions of The Core Functional Job
Executing essential tasks isn’t an isolated activity. These tasks are carried out in the presence of friends, family, or colleagues. Consequently, specific emotional or relational aspects arise from performing these tasks and achieving desired results. Inherent aspects influence how individuals perceive themselves, and there are also external aspects related to how individuals wish to be perceived by others.
Let’s go back to our bag brand example. Carrying out the practical tasks we discussed earlier and accomplishing those desired outcomes triggers various emotions:
-A desire to be seen and feel like a capable and caring mom
-A wish to minimize the chaos and time spent rummaging through a bag of items
-An aversion to unexpected surprises
-Avoidance of drawing attention or causing a commotion
-A sense of being well-organized and in charge
Translating Jobs To Be Done Research Into Product Development
After wrapping up the entire research process, businesses gain more profound insights into the tasks users aim to complete, the reasons behind those tasks, and the preferred methods of accomplishing them.
Returning to our bag brand example, let’s see how this aligns from a product perspective. Before delving into the research, we might assume that any bag should:
1. Carry various items for the baby.
2. Be designed to easily accommodate typical baby items.
Yet, upon observing the various ways new moms employ bags, purses, and totes, the bag brand recognizes that for a bag to genuinely connect with moms, it should also:
– Guarantee that every item is easily accessible with just one hand.
– Make it clear when a crucial item (like a diaper) is absent.
The JTBD method highlights these final two design criteria, offering the brand’s bag designers more specific insights to distinguish the bag’s design from anything else available in the market.
Jobs To Be Done Research vs. Persona Research
At first glance, Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) research might seem to undermine the importance of creating customer personas. If the focus is on understanding what a customer is trying to achieve, delving into demographic or psychographic details about the typical customer might appear unnecessary. But hold on a moment!
Personas play a crucial role in shaping a clear picture of the target customer. When everyone on the product development team shares a unified understanding of the customer, it streamlines discussions about who the end user truly is. Of course, the elements emphasized in your persona descriptions should revolve around aspects that directly impact the product development process. For example, if you include gender or age, it should be because these factors influence how someone thinks about launching features or the overall user experience.
Let’s revisit our bag brand scenario. While JTBD research provides crucial insights into the core functionality and design of the bag, it doesn’t cover other essential product and marketing aspects such as the brand’s communication style and tone. It also doesn’t inform us about the preferred (or disliked) materials for the bag, the optimal pricing, or the most suitable retailers.
Addressing these questions requires persona intelligence. For instance, consider our target customers – millennial moms who prioritize environmental consciousness and a stylish look without breaking the bank. Keeping this persona in mind, our brand would opt for sustainable materials, and playful patterned fabrics, adopt a direct and relatable brand tone, and aim to distribute the product through retailers like Clicks.
Through the fusion of Jobs-To-Be-Done (JTBD) research and persona research, our brand acquires two vital inputs. These include the necessary details to construct the foundational blueprint for the bag and guidance on shaping its overall appearance, sensory experience, and the strategy for bringing it to the market.