Six Ques­tions for Stephen Wunker

Rotman Management Magazine - - FROM THE EDITOR -

The jobs peo­ple want to get done can be both func­tional and emo­tional in na­ture. Which should in­no­va­tors fo­cus on first?

The first step is to de­sign a prod­uct that sat­is­fies one or more func­tional jobs in a su­pe­rior way. But if you can also ap­peal to your cus­tomers’ emo­tional needs, you can cre­ate a break­through suc­cess. When Ap­ple paid $3.2 bil­lion to buy

Beats Elec­tron­ics in 2014, crit­ics com­plained about the in­fe­rior qual­ity of Beats’ head­phones. But, de­spite com­pet­ing against tech­ni­cally-su­pe­rior prod­ucts from Bose,

Sennheiser and JBL, Beats earned a 40 per cent mar­ket share af­ter just four years. Why? Be­cause the com­pany ad­dresses emo­tional jobs.

From the be­gin­ning, Beats fo­cused on get­ting its prod­uct into as many mu­sic videos, locker rooms and run­way shoots as pos­si­ble, so that they were associated with celebrity, glam­our and sta­tus. The $300 price tag ba­si­cally buys you a seat at the cool kids’ ta­ble in the cafe­te­ria of life. As com­peti­tors fig­ure out how to sat­isfy the same func­tional jobs at a lower price point, emo­tional el­e­ments can re­ally dif­fer­en­ti­ate a prod­uct.

Tell us more about the role of ‘job driv­ers’.

Job driv­ers are the un­der­ly­ing con­tex­tual el­e­ments that make cer­tain jobs more or less im­por­tant for a spe­cific cus­tomer, and there are three types: at­ti­tu­di­nal, back­ground and cir­cum­stan­tial.

In terms of at­ti­tude, what so­cial pres­sures do your cus­tomers face? And what per­son­al­ity traits af­fect their be­hav­iour? In terms of back­ground, what does their con­text look like, in terms of ge­og­ra­phy, so­cio-eco­nomic sta­tus and cul­ture? And in terms of cir­cum­stances, what im­me­di­ate fac­tors in the en­vi­ron­ment are likely to af­fect their de­ci­sion-mak­ing? That could range from their work sched­ule to the weather.

Say your friend ‘Stan’ is shop­ping for a new car. Like most car buy­ers, his key jobs to be done in­clude avoid­ing break­downs, hav­ing a com­fort­able ride, and en­sur­ing his safety. How­ever, his com­bi­na­tion of at­ti­tudes, back­ground and cir­cum­stances will dif­fer­en­ti­ate him from other car buy­ers who share those same jobs to be done.

In terms of at­ti­tude, Stan has an MBA from an Ivy League school, and many of his peers are highly suc­cess­ful — which drives Stan to want to show off his own level of suc­cess. In terms of back­ground, Stan lives in New Eng­land, which means he needs a car that can climb up a hill in the snow. And in terms of cir­cum­stances, he hap­pens to be shop­ping for this car dur­ing hockey sea­son. He vol­un­teers for his son’s team, which means he of­ten drives play­ers with lots of equip­ment around. As Stan’s story in­di­cates, even cus­tomers who have sim­i­lar jobs to be done will make dif­fer­ent de­ci­sions about what prod­ucts they use to sat­isfy those jobs.

Ul­ti­mately, it is a com­bi­na­tion of jobs and job driv­ers that dif­fer­en­ti­ates cus­tomers.

What is an ex­am­ple of a com­pany that em­braces the Jobs-to-be-done ap­proach? Nike

rec­og­nizes that its cus­tomers have ‘jobs’ for their footwear be­yond just com­fort and sup­port. Lots of peo­ple are look­ing to ac­com­plish emo­tional jobs when they buy a pair of shoes, like ‘ex­press­ing my in­di­vid­u­al­ity’. The com­pe­ti­tion to do that job could be a rad­i­cal new hair­cut or a new bumper sticker. Or, if the job is ‘pro­ject­ing sta­tus’, the com­pe­ti­tion could be a fancy watch. Nike rec­og­nizes that ev­ery time a cus­tomer sat­is­fies one of these emo­tional jobs by visit­ing the hair sa­lon or buy­ing an ex­pen­sive watch, that cus­tomer has less in­cen­tive (and cash) to buy a new pair of sneak­ers. That’s why it has moved be­yond tra­di­tional tac­tics — like as­so­ci­at­ing ath­letes with its prod­ucts — to find new ways to sat­isfy emo­tional needs. NIKEID, for ex­am­ple, al­lows cus­tomers to de­sign cus­tom shoes by choos­ing the de­sign, ma­te­ri­als and colour of their shoes. Its tagline says it all: Ex­press your iden­tity.

You have said that Uber’s suc­cess is based on Jobs prin­ci­ples. How so?

Just think about what it was like to hail a taxi be­fore Uber. You might have had to wait out in the rain, hop­ing a cab would stop for you; then once you got a ride, you would have to ner­vously check your wallet as you watched the me­ter con­tinue to tick up. When

you look at how many ‘pain points’ there were around sat­is­fy­ing such a ba­sic job — con­fi­dently be­ing able to get from point A to B — it’s no won­der that con­sumers were so will­ing to em­brace Uber’s so­lu­tion.

Uber re­ally thought care­fully about the full set of things that peo­ple are try­ing to get done in the realm of mo­bil­ity. The fact is, it’s not just about get­ting from one place to another; it’s also about know­ing how long that will take, how long you will have to wait, how much it will cost and whether the driver will have change. Uber has ad­dressed all of these pain points.

What is the role of Big Data in the Jobs-to-be-done frame­work?

Data can tell you a lot — like what your cus­tomers are buy­ing, when they are buy­ing it, and whether they are sat­is­fied with their pur­chase. What it fails to pro­vide is con­text. It can’t tell you that a par­tic­u­lar shop­per chose your brand of toi­let pa­per to pla­cate his scream­ing tod­dler, who ‘needed’ the one with the puppy on it. Big Data fails to pro­vide cru­cial in­for­ma­tion about why cus­tomers make de­ci­sions — and how they in­ter­act with prod­ucts af­ter they are pur­chased. It is no­to­ri­ously bad at telling us how cus­tomers emo­tion­ally re­late to prod­ucts, or how they use them in ways that you never en­vi­sioned.

That’s why the most suc­cess­ful con­sumer-goods com­pa­nies — like Proc­ter & Gam­ble, Mi­crosoft and Gen­eral Mo

tors — have ethno­graphic re­searchers on staff. But the ben­e­fits of pri­mary re­search hold just as much value in fields such as fi­nan­cial ser­vices and health­care. At the end of the day, of­fer­ing a new so­lu­tion re­quires deep in­sights into how and why de­ci­sions are made; what level of frus­tra­tion will push a cus­tomer to seek out new offerings; and what cri­te­ria new prod­ucts need to sat­isfy.

Should peo­ple fo­cus mostly on ex­ist­ing cus­tomers or non-cus­tomers to ob­tain the best in­sights?

There are ac­tu­ally three groups that you should reach out to, all of which pro­vide a dif­fer­ent type of in­sight. First, your ex­ist­ing cus­tomers, who can tell you what your prod­ucts are par­tic­u­larly good or bad at. They can also tell you whether your prod­uct is be­ing used to solve a slightly dif­fer­ent prob­lem than what you in­tended. For in­stance, Kleenex was launched as a dis­pos­able towel for re­mov­ing makeup; its cre­ators never dreamed peo­ple would use it to blow their noses!

The sec­ond group to en­gage with is cus­tomers who are cur­rently buy­ing com­pet­ing prod­ucts. Here, the goal is to learn what makes these cus­tomers dif­fer­ent from yours — be­yond the su­per­fi­cial an­swers that they are likely to start with. Just look at Wal­mart, Tar­get and Kmart — three dis­count re­tail­ers that cater to very dif­fer­ent cus­tomer types. De­spite a num­ber of sim­i­lar­i­ties in se­lec­tion and pric­ing, Tar­get cus­tomers rarely con­sider shop­ping at Wal­mart or Kmart, be­cause Tar­get sat­is­fies emo­tional jobs that the other two do not. Tar­get shop­pers love a deal as much as the oth­ers, but they are much more im­age con­scious. Their life­style choices and so­cial groups mo­ti­vate them to place a higher em­pha­sis on look­ing fash­ion­able and buy­ing in a so­cially-re­spon­si­ble way.

The final group to in­ves­ti­gate is in­di­vid­u­als who are not con­sum­ing the cat­e­gory of prod­ucts you sell at all. Do they have a dif­fer­ent set of jobs that they are look­ing to get done? Per­haps some­thing is hold­ing them back? These in­di­vid­u­als, in par­tic­u­lar, of­fer valu­able op­por­tu­ni­ties for ex­pan­sion. Lead­ing brewer

An­heuser-busch sought to at­tract new cus­tomers — those who pre­ferred cock­tails to beer — by cre­at­ing Bud Light Lime-aRita. Lever­ag­ing Bud Light in this way made mar­gar­i­tas more ap­proach­able and more ‘co-ed’, giv­ing them a chance to pro­mote a Bud Light prod­uct at venues with tra­di­tion­ally low beer sales.

It’s im­por­tant to chal­lenge es­tab­lished views of what your in­dus­try sells and how it op­er­ates. The Jobs-based lens cre­ates a broader view of com­pe­ti­tion, il­lu­mi­nat­ing new av­enues for growth and sharp­en­ing your view of where dis­rup­tors might ap­pear. This ap­proach also en­sures that your brand re­mains fresh as the world con­tin­ues to evolve.

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