How “Job To Be Done” theory helped McDonald’s?

By using JTBD – “Job To be done” theory McDonald’s increased its milk shakes sales by 7 times. Want to know How?

Sometime back McDonald’s decided to innovate and improve their milkshake market. So they called a set of people to try their milkshakes. Based on the feedback received from them McDonald’s worked on different attributes of the milk shake like sweetness, thickness, temperature etc. And brought this new version of milkshakes to the market but the new milkshake did not bring the desired results in its sales.

So, McDonald’s approached a Harvard Professor, Sir Clay Christensen. Professor Clay is well known for his JTBD (Job To Be Done) theory. As per the JTBD theory we hire a product to get a specific job done. For example : Let’s say the job that I am trying to get done is to clean my teeth. I would hire a toothpaste and a toothbrush to get that job done.

Based on the JTBD theory Clay’s team decided to find out what is the job that buyers are trying to get done by hiring the milkshake. In order, to do so one member from clay’s team sat in a McDonald’s outlet for 18 hours and took careful notes about the people who were buying milkshakes. He noted what clothes they were wearing, what time were they buying milkshakes, were they coming alone to the cafe or somebody’s accompanying them, were they buying anything along with the milkshake, so on and so forth.

Based on the notes here is what they concluded. Most of people buying milkshakes were the single males, who were buying milkshakes in morning before 8:30 am, they are not sitting in the cafe to sip their milkshakes, most of them did not buy anything along with the milkshake.

So, the next morning, Clay’s team spotted single males coming out of McDonald’s carrying their milkshakes and talked to them. And here is what they found. these males had a long commute to work. Milkshake kept them occupied throughout the drive as it takes almost 23 minutes to finish the super thick and cold milkshake. And now Clay’s team knew the job that milkshake was doing for its buyers.

Clay’s team also asked these buyers if they tried something else in place of milkshake. The answer was Yes. Somebody had tried a banana but banana finished too quickly, somebody had tried bagel and cream cheese but it was too messy to handle while driving the car, somebody had tried snicker bars, even donuts but these sugary treats made them feel guilty. Besides, these were failing at one more job the milkshake did. Milkshake saved them from the 10:00 am hunger attack which kept them continuing their work without having to go out to eat something.

Based on these outcomes McDonald’s brought changes in it sales and marketing strategies for milkshakes. It did not market milkshake anymore based on its attributes. It made sure that people who wanted to just buy milk shake and drive through didn’t have to wait in long queues.

All these efforts brought a phenomenal seven times increase in milkshake sales for McDonals’s.

Isn’t this amazing?

There was one more finding in this study. There was a another smaller set of people who bought milkshakes in the evenings. It was “Parents” who bought milkshakes for their kids. However, milkshake failed their because of it’s thickness attribute. Parents didn’t want to wait forever for kids to finish the milk shake after a long day at work. Hence, one more important point to note here is “One Size Does NOT Fit ALL”.

P.S. I heard this story of milkshakes while taking a sales certification on HubSpot. I loved the story and felt that it must be shared. If you want to gain valuable insights in sales and marketing: Explore!

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