Clay Christensen’s Milkshake Marketing (2022)

Updated to clarify a failure rate figure included in an earlier version.

When planning new products, companies often start by segmenting their markets and positioning their merchandise accordingly. This segmentation involves either dividing the market into product categories, such as function or price, or dividing the customer base into target demographics, such as age, gender, education, or income level.

Unfortunately, neither way works very well, according to Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen, who notes that each year 30,000 new consumer products are launched—and many of them fail.

(Video) 9 - Clayton Christensen Polytechnique 24 Juin 2013 - increasing sales of milkshakes

“The jobs-to-be-done point of view causes you to crawl into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, always asking the question as she does something: Why did she do it that way?”

The problem is that consumers usually don't go about their shopping by conforming to particular segments. Rather, they take life as it comes. And when faced with a job that needs doing, they essentially "hire" a product to do that job. To that end, Christensen suggests that companies start segmenting their markets according to "jobs-to-be-done." It's a concept that he has been honing with several colleagues for more than a decade.

"The fact that you're 18 to 35 years old with a college degree does not cause you to buy a product," Christensen says. "It may be correlated with the decision, but it doesn't cause it. We developed this idea because we wanted to understand what causes us to buy a product, not what's correlated with it. We realized that the causal mechanism behind a purchase is, 'Oh, I've got a job to be done.' And it turns out that it's really effective in allowing a company to build products that people want to buy."

Christensen, who is planning to publish a book on the subject of jobs-to-be-done marketing, explains that there's an important difference between determining a product's function and its job. "Looking at the market from the function of a product really originates from your competitors or your own employees deciding what you need," he says. "Whereas the jobs-to-be-done point of view causes you to crawl into the skin of your customer and go with her as she goes about her day, always asking the question as she does something: Why did she do it that way?"

Hiring A Milkshake

In his MBA course, Christensen shares the story of a fast-food restaurant chain that wanted to improve its milkshake sales. The company started by segmenting its market both by product (milkshakes) and by demographics (a marketer's profile of a typical milkshake drinker). Next, the marketing department asked people who fit the demographic to list the characteristics of an ideal milkshake (thick, thin, chunky, smooth, fruity, chocolaty, etc.). The would-be customers answered as honestly as they could, and the company responded to the feedback. But alas, milkshake sales did not improve.

(Video) Clay Christensen: The Jobs to be Done Theory

The company then enlisted the help of one of Christensen's fellow researchers, who approached the situation by trying to deduce the "job" that customers were "hiring" a milkshake to do. First, he spent a full day in one of the chain's restaurants, carefully documenting who was buying milkshakes, when they bought them, and whether they drank them on the premises. He discovered that 40 percent of the milkshakes were purchased first thing in the morning, by commuters who ordered them to go.

The next morning, he returned to the restaurant and interviewed customers who left with milkshake in hand, asking them what job they had hired the milkshake to do. Christensen details the findings in a recent teaching note, "Integrating Around the Job to be Done."

Click to watch.

"Most of them, it turned out, bought [the milkshake] to do a similar job," he writes. "They faced a long, boring commute and needed something to keep that extra hand busy and to make the commute more interesting. They weren't yet hungry, but knew that they'd be hungry by 10 a.m.; they wanted to consume something now that would stave off hunger until noon. And they faced constraints: They were in a hurry, they were wearing work clothes, and they had (at most) one free hand."

(Video) Understanding the Job

The milkshake was hired in lieu of a bagel or doughnut because it was relatively tidy and appetite-quenching, and because trying to suck a thick liquid through a thin straw gave customers something to do with their boring commute. Understanding the job to be done, the company could then respond by creating a morning milkshake that was even thicker (to last through a long commute) and more interesting (with chunks of fruit) than its predecessor. The chain could also respond to a separate job that customers needed milkshakes to do: serve as a special treat for young children—without making the parents wait a half hour as the children tried to work the milkshake through a straw. In that case, a different, thinner milkshake was in order.

Proven Success And Purpose Branding

Several major companies that have succeeded with a jobs-to-be-done mechanism: FedEx, for example, fulfills the job of getting a package from here to there as fast as possible. Disney does the job of providing warm, safe, fantasy vacations for families. OnStar provides peace of mind.

Procter & Gamble's product success rate rose dramatically when the company started segmenting its markets according to a product's job, Christensen says. He adds that this marketing paradigm comes with the additional benefit of being difficult to rip off. Nobody, for example, has managed to copy IKEA, which helps its customers do the job of furnishing an apartment right now.

Christensen also cites the importance of "purpose branding"—building an entire brand around a particular job-to-be-done. Quite simply, purpose branding involves naming the product after the purpose it serves.

(Video) Why Hire A Milkshake? - Clayton M. Christensen

Kodak, for example, has seen great success with its FunSaver brand of single-use cameras, which performs the job of preserving fun memories. Milwaukee Electric Tool Corp. has cornered the market on reciprocating saws with its trademarked Sawzall, which does the job of helping consumers safely saw through pretty much anything. Its Hole-Hawg drills, which make big holes between studs and joists, are also quite popular. The company's other tools, which rely on the Milwaukee brand, are not nearly as celebrated.

"The word 'Milwaukee' doesn't give you any market whatsoever," Christensen says.

So, if jobs-to-be-done market segmentation is so effective, why aren't more companies designing their products accordingly? For one thing, future product planning usually involves analyzing existing data, and most existing data is organized by customer demographics or product category.

"I've got a list of mistakes that God made in creating the world, and one of them is, dang it, he only made data available about the past!" Christensen says. "All the data is organized by product category or customer category because that's easy to get. To go out and get data about a job is really hard. But there are a lot of people who hire consultants to tell them how big the market is. And because the data is organized in the wrong way, you start to believe that's how the market should be organized."

(Video) Dr. Clay Christensen: When Only a Milkshake will do the Job

Furthermore, it's difficult for product developers to break the mold when many of their customers organize their store shelves around traditional marketing metrics. Christensen gives the example of a company that developed a novel tool designed to help carpenters with the daunting task of installing a door in a doorframe, a job that usually took several tools to do. But a major home goods store refused to sell the tool because its shelves were organized by product category—and there was no shelf in the store dedicated to the singular job of hanging a door.

"Most organizations are already organized around product categories or customer categories," Christensen says, "and therefore people only see opportunities within this little frame that they've stuck you in. So you have to think inside of a category as opposed to getting out. You've just got to make the decision to divorce yourself from the constraints that are arbitrarily created by the design of the old org chart."

FAQs

What is milkshake marketing? ›

Milkshake Marketing rides on the premise that a customer looks into what “job” the product does for them. It aims to discover groups of potential customers that have similar needs and effectively position the product as a solution to those challenges.

Who invented jobs to be done? ›

The jobs-to-be-done framework was developed by Tony Ulwick, founder of the innovation consulting firm Strategyn. In fact, JTBD began as Ulwick's patented process called Outcome Driven Innovation (ODI), a framework focused on identifying outcomes that customers seek, as opposed to products they want.

What is job theory? ›

At its heart, Jobs Theory explains why customers pull certain products and services into their lives. It reveals the causal mechanisms behind purchase decisions and, furthermore, where to look for successful new product ventures.

What does jobs to be done help you identify? ›

At the most basic level, Jobs to Be Done — or JTBD, as it's often referred — is a framework that helps product and marketing teams understand why consumers buy the products they do. The idea behind this theory is that people don't really buy products, they hire products to do a particular job.

What is the purpose of milkshake? ›

Sugar provides instant energy to the brain to function properly. If you are going for a fruity milkshake-like Heritage Strawberry Milkshake, it is a good source of fibre too. Most fruits contain vitamin C which boosts immunity.

How can I sell more milkshakes? ›

Make the milkshakes thicker (so they last for the entire drive to work). Add tiny chunks of fruit to certain shakes (to make the shake consumption less predictable and more interesting for commuters).

What JTBD means? ›

Fundamentals of Jobs-To-Be-Done Theory

People buy products and services to get jobs done; and while products come and go, the underlying job-to-be-done does not go away. This notion is at the heart of jobs-to-be-done (JTBD) theory.

What are emotional jobs? ›

The second type of job is an emotional job - how your customers want to feel and be perceived while executing the functional job. For example, overcoming anxiety can be an emotional job as customers want to avoid feeling anxious due to being late and perceived as unprofessional.

What is the purpose of job? ›

Purpose of the Job Description: The job description documents essential job functions and the skills, knowledge, abilities and other characteristics needed for satisfactory performance of the job. It should be updated regularly to ensure that it reflects the employee's current assigned responsibilities.

How is your products job to be done tied? ›

How is your product's “job to be done” tied to your customer's personal identity? You have to understand a customer's personal identity in order to understand the job they're hiring your product to do. By researching the job your product does, you'll better understand the identity of your customer.

Why is jobs to be done important? ›

Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) is a simple method invented by Harvard Professor Clayton Christensen, that allows companies and teams to identify the true opportunity behind customer behavior.

How do I prioritize JTBD? ›

Prioritize the JTBD Opportunities

You might try to use Likert Scale & ask customers how important the job is, and how satisfied they are with an existing solution or service. A Likert Scale can also work for assessing the level of satisfaction customers have with current solutions.

When was jobs to be done created? ›

In 1990, Tony Ulwick invented a powerful innovation process based on the notion that people buy products and services to get a “job” done.

How would you describe a milkshake? ›

The definition of milkshake is: “a cold drink made of milk, a sweet flavouring such as fruit or chocolate, and typically ice cream, whisked until it is frothy”.

Why is it called milkshake? ›

Milkshakes got their name from being served in bars. If the customer enjoyed the milkshake, he shook hands with the bartender. If not, the bartender didn't get a tip. June 20th is National Vanilla Milkshake Day.

Are milkshakes profitable? ›

Milkshakes increase your profits: they have a low cost, high profit potential. Milkshakes are quick and easy to make, especially with our range of syrups.

Can you make money selling milkshakes? ›

A small foodservice establishment can earn close to USD 50,000 per year from selling milkshakes if it sells at least 50 servings per day, and is open seven days a week and 12 months a year. This translates to a daily profit of around USD 135.

Who is your target market example? ›

A target customer is an individual that's most likely to buy your product. And it's a subset of the broader target market. For example, if your target market is female athletes between the ages of 13 to 25, a target customer could be female athletes in the specific age range of 13 to 16.

What is customer development model? ›

The Customer Development Model is characterized by an iterative and flexible process that reflects the ambiguous nature of starting a new business and launching new markets. The CDM tests the key assumptions that underpin your initial ideas about your product and its market.

What are the 11 traits of an empath? ›

15 Signs You Might Be an Empath
  • What is an empath.
  • Major empathy.
  • Easily overwhelmed.
  • Strong intuition.
  • Love of nature.
  • Dislike of crowds.
  • Deep caring.
  • Problem solving.

How can empaths make money? ›

“Empaths tend to excel in industries that provide a service to others—like hospitality, medical, teaching, and social work,” Enjolie says. “The jobs in these industries require an enhanced sense of intuition, sensitivity, and connection in order to effectively serve others.”

What are the 3 types of jobs? ›

A Job Category defines the type of work performed, as opposed to the occupation or subject matter. The three categories are: 1) Operational & Technical, 2) Professional, 3) Supervisory & Managerial.

How do you see yourself 5 years from now? ›

Tips for Answering 'Where Do You See Yourself in 5 Years? '
  1. Show how your professional goals and the job you're applying for align.
  2. Focus on the skills you want to learn and get better at.
  3. Don't get too specific with job titles or time frames.
  4. Never say “I want your job,” “I don't know” or “Not here!”
8 Jul 2022

Why is an interview good? ›

Since interviews provide you with an opportunity to analyze a potential employee's experience, skills and professional background, they can help you discover the candidates who are best qualified for the position. This may assist you in choosing the right candidates to advance to the next stage of the hiring process.

Why should we hire you interview questions for experienced? ›

Why Should We Hire You Answers
  • Can you explain why your background and experience would be a good fit for this job?
  • Why are you the best person for this job?
  • Why should we hire you for this position?
  • Can you please describe why you are an ideal candidate for this position?
8 Jul 2022

What makes a milkshake a milkshake? ›

A milkshake (sometimes simply called a shake) is a sweet beverage made by blending milk, ice cream, and flavorings or sweeteners such as butterscotch, caramel sauce, chocolate syrup, fruit syrup, or whole fruit into a thick, sweet, cold mixture.

Who is your target market example? ›

A target customer is an individual that's most likely to buy your product. And it's a subset of the broader target market. For example, if your target market is female athletes between the ages of 13 to 25, a target customer could be female athletes in the specific age range of 13 to 16.

Is milkshake a food? ›

A milkshake is a beverage,” said Reeves. “A milkshake is ordered alongside a meal.” According to Rigol, however, a milkshake is a dessert. “It has an ice cream base and is served with a spoon,” said Rigol.

Is milkshake business profitable? ›

High profit margins from milkshakes.

Milkshakes, on average, account for profit margins in the range of 50%-70%.

Is milkshake a good business? ›

Milkshakes increase your profits: they have a low cost, high profit potential. Milkshakes are quick and easy to make, especially with our range of syrups.

Can you make money selling milkshakes? ›

A small foodservice establishment can earn close to USD 50,000 per year from selling milkshakes if it sells at least 50 servings per day, and is open seven days a week and 12 months a year. This translates to a daily profit of around USD 135.

How would you describe a milkshake? ›

The definition of milkshake is: “a cold drink made of milk, a sweet flavouring such as fruit or chocolate, and typically ice cream, whisked until it is frothy”.

How much milk goes into a milkshake? ›

1 cup ice cream to 1/4 cup milk is a great ratio. Blend the shake. In a blender, combine the milk and ice cream and blend until smooth.

Why is it called milkshake? ›

Milkshakes got their name from being served in bars. If the customer enjoyed the milkshake, he shook hands with the bartender. If not, the bartender didn't get a tip. June 20th is National Vanilla Milkshake Day.

How will you sell your product? ›

The Best Way to Sell Online
  • Find your products. ...
  • Identify your niche market. ...
  • Conduct market research. ...
  • Create buyer personas. ...
  • Brand your business. ...
  • Build your e-commerce website. ...
  • Set up processes for payment, shipping, and staying in touch. ...
  • Create high-quality product content.

Who is the target market of food products? ›

Your target market is the group of people who are willing to buy your product. Learn about the people in the area where you want to sell your product. Look for age, gender, education, occupation, income level, and household type. This information can help you predict buying patterns of people in the area.

What are the 3 target market strategies? ›

The three strategies for selecting target markets are pursuing entire markets with one marketing mix, concentrating on one segment, or pursuing multiple market segments with multiple marketing mixes.

What goes good with milkshakes? ›

Variations. For add-ins, try chocolate candies, brownie bits, chocolate cookies, chocolate cake or chocolate syrup/sauce. Some people like to make Double Chocolate into a boozy milkshake, too. If you want, try it with Kahlua, a chocolate liqueur, vodka, brandy, bourbon or vodka.

Is raw milk used for milkshake? ›

Even if one is preparing milk-based beverages at home, the milk must be boiled and then be used to make cold coffee, milkshakes, faloodas, etc. as the bad bacteria present in that milk will be destroyed during the boiling process,” she advises.

Videos

1. Market Disruptions & Online Learning
(Forbes)
2. Christensen Milkshake
(Professor Livengood)
3. Innovation Summit '09, Clayton Christensen (Clip #4, TechPoint)
(TechPoint)
4. #88: What Can Milkshakes Teach You About Marketing?
(Build My Online Store)
5. How Will You Measure Your Life? Clay Christensen at TEDxBoston
(TEDx Talks)
6. Christensen Milkshakes Example mp4 ff
(Christopher Zobrist)

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