Marketing that does not begin with an understanding of consumers’ wants, needs and motivations in the design of a communications program may still produce an approach to communications that has aesthetic appeal and stands apart from the “look and feel” of competitors’ marketing.
But without an explanation of how the marketing program’s unique aesthetics and tactics are designed to resonate within consumer motivations and circumstances, marketing decision makers cannot feel confident that the program has been designed to deliver results.
Consumer Insights and Experience Architecture
Understanding the wants and needs of consumers that must be met to drive results through marketing is developed through consumer research and data analysis. And a mapping of how these wants and needs can be encountered and addressed throughout the buying process is delivered through Consumer Experience design and Consumer Journey mapping.
Be it apparel, accessories, footwear, makeup, mid-size sedans, cable packages, mobile carrier, fast-casual dining options, hotel rooms, condo units, ketchup bottles, cans of beans, bottled water brands or most any other product in any other category; the real differences between most products in most categories are not tangible enough to warrant a decision to buy one or another on the attributes alone.
And before the question of how a buying decision is made, there’s the question of how the buying process is started and progresses. In “discretionary” spending categories driven by “want” over “need”.
While marketing has an important role in guiding consumers through their buying journey, it is something deeper than marketing that drives the wants, needs and motivations behind the impulse to buy. Successful marketers understand they are appealing to something more in consumer motivation than just how the offering’s features meet a functional consumer need. Consumer Insights allow marketers to understand these deeper motivations, and Experience Architecture ensures that marketing anticipates how to address these throughout the buying journey.
Jobs to be Done
For most consumers there is a very perceptible difference between a Rolex watch and a Timex watch despite their extreme similarity in the function of telling their wearer the time. Likewise, there is little physical difference between a national brand’s stewed tomatoes and the store brand’s, but there are consumers who perceive a difference nonetheless.
Consumers who select a Rolex over a Timex or name brand tomatoes over store brand tomatoes do not simply want to spend more money for the same basic qualities they could get for less in another option. They believe they are buying something more than just the watch’s ability to tell time or the tomatoes’ taste, something that is worth more to them than just the product attributes alone.
Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christenson has described the “something more” that consumers are seeking from goods and services as the offering’s “Job To Be Done (JTBD)”. Understanding what drives a consumer’s valuation of a product and willingness to buy requires understanding what job the consumer is “hiring” the product to do for them.
In a 2016 Harvard Business Review article, Christenson provides the story of a real estate developer who was having trouble selling new condominium units. They had been designed for people who were downsizing their housing, and the market at that moment for such people was strong, but the units weren’t converting as planned. So the developer conducted research with the people who had purchased units from him to understand the steps that led up to their decision.
A surprising insight emerged; people kept bringing up their dining room table, and the need to figure out what to do with it before they moved. The condo units being sold were designed to help people downsize, so they had not been designed to hold a dining room table. But the emotional attachment that prospective movers felt to their dining room table was something that hadn’t been considered in the product design.
Christensen quotes the developer as telling him “I went in thinking we were in the business of new-home construction, but I realized we were in the business of moving lives.” And with this realization, the developer had identified the job to be done by his entire offering. It wasn’t just the layout and finishes of the units – though they did some redesign to make room for a kitchen table. The building also began offering a moving service, two years of storage, and a post-move sorting room in the building.
Emphasizing how their building fulfilled a Job to be Done helped the business. They were able to raise prices, and grew their business by 25% while the industry faced a 49% downturn.
The Job to be Done that consumers were “hiring” against when considering moving was not simply about finding a new place to live. This condo developer could not create a want or need to move – marketing for the building was not putting the idea of moving into people’s heads. People who were considering moving had a reason for moving: to downsize and simplify. But many had a conflicting reason not to move: the emotional attachment to their old home, and the things in it.
All of these consumer attitudes toward the possibility of moving were shaped by factors other than marketing, and the marketing and sales process was required to work within them. And to work within them, the way the product was marketed couldn’t just showcase attributes of the product, it needed to explain why the product should be “hired” to fulfill an important job for the consumer.
Delivering Good Job Performance
To successfully market an offering as a prospective hire for Jobs to be Done, Christensen defines several requirements for marketers to meet.
- Marketers must look beyond demographics and their offering’s features and functions to understand the circumstances around the buying behavior.
- Within these circumstances, we must consider the social and emotional dimensions that create a challenge or point of stress that the offering can be hired to solve.
- And the offering’s qualifications to solve the problem being hired for should be distinctive; addressing the problem in a way that is only partially addressed or unaddressed by other options.
On this third point, Christensen introduces the need to create consumer experiences in his article, noting that in delivering on Jobs to be Done it is “essential to create the right set of experiences for the purchase and use of the product.” The first step in creating an effective consumer experience is the process of consumer experience mapping or developing an experience architecture.