Updated: Aug 12, 2022
The 'Jobs-to-be-Done' concept was initially propogated by Clay Christensen and gained wider prominence in his 2016 HBR article "Know Your Customers' Jobs to be Done".
Brands we serve and who have recognized the value of ‘JTBDs’ and the (few) specialized insights techniques that help identify them are significantly more effective in outperforming the competition, in becoming category leaders and increasing profitability - and in creating brand loyalty.
The ‘secret’ of a JTBD is nothing more than a brand establishing its space in people’s personally important goal. Most often, that's an emotional goal.
Sounds easy, but it isn't.
Understanding the pivotal ‘Job’ that impacts consumer choices is something that no amount of data ever could provide much insight about: the real motivation that drives people to choose a brand, place a product into their lives – and stay with it. Marketers today collect unprecedented mountains of data that provide extensive information on shopping behavior and trends. They extrapolate purchase journey touchpoints and product performance advantages.
All that is important to understand. But shopping data do not equate insights into deeper motivation or the real ‘meaning’ of a specific brand to the consumer.
And when brand spending is then mostly channeled into simply showing up on the consumer’s screen as often as possible during their search for ‘smarter deals’, and when communication focuses more on functional or technological aspects rather than the real ‘value’ of the brand to the consumer, it fails to activate motivation.
Because then brand communication and consumer perceptions take place on different wavelengths that don’t really cross: the marketer thinks s/he is communicating an important and distinct advantage – to the consumer, however, that info does almost nothing to help them figure out if the brand can do the one job that really matters to them.
It’s not Disconnection: it’s asking the Wrong Questions
Of course, (some) brands talk directly to the consumer, trying to figure out why profitability and brand loyalty continue to slide. They ask questions such as ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
They hear, ‘I want you to help me relax after a long day’, or ‘Reduce my wrinkles.’ And so on. Such responses reflect situational feelings during specific moments and venues of use. They don’t say anything about the real ‘Job’ he or she seeks to accomplish.
A 'Job' is about helping her the consumer significant progress towards solving critical emotional tensions and satisfying an emotional need. The consumer’s emotional and life circumstances, her tensions and motivations are much more important than any data on shopping, technologies or trends. Understanding a JTBD is one Challenge – Communicating it Another:
The next challenge then is convincing audiences that the Brand has the wherewithal to satisfy critical emotional needs.
Here are two powerful advertising examples from Taiwan who managed to accomplish that: Lay's Doritos and Chunghwa Motors. These ads were developed years ago, and yet they are timeless in demonstrating an understanding of the real ‘Jobs’ their customers needed to accomplish.
The Doritos 'Late Night' ad starts out with a protagonist who wants to have some ‘fun’. It turns out he needs much more than that:
9 Doritos’ JTBD here is to infuse the Emotional Strength people need to gain a sense of Control over their lives: an important Emotional Tension that the brand understood and expertly applied in creative communication.
The product’s critical sensory attributes and experience cut through, too: I can see, sense and hear the thin, crispy texture which ignites the emotional journey as soon as I crush those chips in my mouth.
Just by watching the ad I also taste the strong and rich flavor that explodes into the power I need to be back in charge of myself and my life.
Dorito’s ‘Late Night’ execution is an excellent example of a ‘Job well done’, on a product sensory and emotional need level.
Taiwan’s Chunghwa Motors 中华汽车 (and its JV with Mitsubishi) is another beloved brand that enjoys high brand loyalty.
Its reliable cars and tech features are one aspect. But what really touches and persuades drivers is how the brand has grown to represent their own emotional needs that grew out of life experiences in which the auto-relevant theme of ‘getting to where I need or want to go’ is defined in its core essence.
Here is a TVC execution from the 90s, widely remembered and loved until today:
Chunghwa does not waste much of its budget on emphasizing technological features and other 'rational facts'. Customers who wish to compare those elements within a competitive context have plenty of channels to do so.
Chunghwa's success is its powerful Emotional Brand Equity: its ability to pinpoint a key Job-to-be-Done for its customers, one that reflects how people experience life, and how life shapes their real emotional tensions and needs.
Which is a key reason why the brand has successfully maintained its appeal and profitability for such a long time. We use Narrative & Associative Psychology to pinpoint target audiences’ critical Emotional Tensions and Needs - and then help lient stakeholders develop & sharpen a powerful 'Principal Brand Narrative', in the form of several inspirational video executions, and for transfer into multi-channel communication content via our acclaimed workshops.