Many times, marketing professionals and public relations professionals assume that people buy products solely because of their demographics. In Clayton Christensen's book "How Will You Measure Your Life?" he states that customers buy products because they have a job that needs to be done, and that product will help them do so. He says that people "hire" products to get jobs done. A fast food restaurant that sold milkshakes approached Christensen and his business partner for help. The restaurant wanted to know how they could improve their milkshake so that more people will want to buy more of them. Christensen's colleague Bob Moesta asked "I wonder what job arises in people's lives that causes them to come to this restaurant to 'hire' a milkshake?" What they found was that most people were buying milkshakes in the morning. Christensen and Moesta asked many of these people why they were buying milkshakes in the morning, and what job they were getting done by hiring a milkshake. Most of the people were hiring the milkshake to make their commute less boring while warding off the morning hunger. 

Christensen asked some of these customers what other products they have tried hiring before to get this same job done and the answers were very intuitive. One of the customers said that they tried a banana before, but it was gone too quick and they were hungry earlier. Someone else said they hired a bagel one time but it was bland without cream cheese and it was difficult to put cream cheese on their bagel while they were driving. Another person said they tried a Snickers, but they felt too guilty eating candy for breakfast. 

The milkshake was the best because it took so long to suck up through the straw and it was substantial enough to keep the mid-morning hunger away. The restaurant was able to realize how to improve the milkshake to do this job even better. They could make it thicker so it takes people even longer to suck it up through the straw. They couild also put little pieces of fruit in it to make the long commute a little more interesting. "The unexpected pieces of fruit would do just that."

When you're wondering how to improve a product or service, think about the job people hire your product for.

Seth Gutzwiller