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Rashi Goel

How Clay Christenson’s Jobs-to-be-done model helped grow McDonalds shakes business

How Clay Christenson’s Jobs-to-be-done model helped grow McDonalds shakes business
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Systemic Thinking Applied to North India Pollution

Systemic marketing is when all parts of a company together deliver consumer value. But sometimes, one compromised element sets in motion knock-on effects that jeopardize the entire system.

I call it the zero-compromise element. Read my essay about it here.

Come October-November, North India becomes a gas chamber. Combine this with Diwali cracker bursting and we deal with AQI levels of 900. (this was the AQI in Delhi the morning after Diwali).

As it turns out, crop stubble burning is not the root cause for the pollution. Instead, it is free water and electricity to farmers in Haryana and Punjab. (Credit: The Print)

Follow the numbers in the flowchart to see how something meant for good sets off a chain reaction that does not benefit anyone!

Pollution in North India is a result of multiple ecosystems

Jobs-To-Be-Done/Yours or Theirs?

The late Clay Christenson propagated the theory of Jobs-to-Be-Done. The theory asks, “What job is your product hired to do?”. 

Christenson famously demonstrated this for McDonalds. McDonalds wanted to sell more milkshakes. They made them bigger, chocolatier, thicker, launched new flavors. Nothing worked.

Enter Christensen. He saw that 50% of the milkshakes were sold before 8:30AM to people on their way to work, they bought nothing to eat. 

After speaking to the commuters he concluded they were not hungry, but bored. Sipping on shakes kept them occupied through the long drive. Shakes were a non-messy option vs other snacks (bananas, doughnuts). 

Jobs-to-be-done went beyond just the product and flavor. It was about human needs of boredom busting and non-messy convenience.

McDonald’s changed all aspects of the consumer experience to cater to this:

  • they moved the milkshake from behind the counter to the front
  • they issued prepaid swipe cards for quick check-out 
  • they also made thicker milkshakes that would take longer to finish 

Sales increased by 7X.

This theory pushes us to see things from a consumer’s view. Ironically, if we focus less on our job – “we need to sell more product”, “our product contains vitamin E”; and focus more on the job a consumer needs to get done, we will ultimately be more successful at our jobs.

Drills or Holes?

Along similar lines, a common example that illustrates what the best sales and marketing people know intuitively is that consumers don’t buy quarter inch drills, they buy quarter inch holes. 

But how do we find out what consumers want?

One technique I use frequently is asking why a consumer will NOT buy: 

  1. I ALREADY HAVE IT: reposition what the consumer is using by offering more value
  2. I DON’T NEED IT: create the need
  3. I DONT BELIEVE YOU HAVE IT: convince the consumer that your product can do what is needed

Negative Space In Print Ads

In the last newsletter, I had shared award winning print ads from JBL.

People told me they like that section. JBL ads use “negative space” to convey the brand benefit. Negative space is the space between and around images. It is not meant to be a design element in itself. But when negative space itself is used to convey the entire message, campaigns get interesting. 

Here are three more such campaigns. 

Philips LED Torch: In these powerful ads designed by Ogilvy & Mather India, negative space brings the benefit into focus, not the product. The light from the torch cuts through surroundings to reveal the sky.

Philips LED Torch: 
Philips LED Torch: 

World For All: There’s always room for one more, a campaign encouraging people to adopt pets by McCann Mumbai.  Here again, the negative space forms a pet – Rabbit, Cat or Puppy, around the image of a tight-knit family.  

World For All: 

Save penguins: A powerful advertising created for SANCCOB Education Center by Andrew Hofmeyr. This uses negative space to show the tipping point of declining Penguin population. 

Save penguins