Jobs-To-Be-Done: Pretzel Rods

Monday, January 26, 2009

It all started with a Tweet.

Annie and I had never actually met, but we had eaten lunch at opposite sides of the same table at a conference, and then connected and introduced ourselves on Twitter shortly after.

Months later, when she announced to the world on Twitter that she had an addiction to pretzel rods, I jumped at the opportunity to introduce her to jobs and see how much we could both learn about the jobs that pretzel rods do.

What's the Job?

In a few short paragraphs I explained the role that situational context plays in what we choose to consume (hire). I talked about the Snickers bar (help me make it through the next few hours without crashing; give me something that feels like food when I'm eating it), and the new home, (help me live the life I should be living; help me get out of this bad neighborhood).

Then we started talking about the containers of pretzel rods that she keeps on her desk.

Why not potato chips? - "Pretzel rods don't contain fat or any real calories."

If it's a health consideration, why not an apple or orange - "They're not as accessible and they make my hands sticky."

We know there is a lot of motion involved with jobs and why people hire things. So when you reach for a pretzel rod, is it because of something that just happened, something that's happening now, or something that's about to happen? - "Usually because my stomach is grumbling, but sometimes my mouth just gets bored!"

What People Don't Say

This is where it becomes important to really listen to people. During our email exchange, Annie started describing the recent changes that had occurred in her working environment. Her workstation was recently moved into a part of the building filled with software engineers. The engineers were more introverted than her other marketing colleagues and she started feeling disconnected; turning to Twitter for interaction with other people.

Another aspect of the job became apparent when she began talking about the fact that engineers would visit her desk throughout the day to grab a pretzel rod.

This was much more than just free food!

So What's the Job?

So how do you market to Annie? The job that the pretzel rod does for Annie is made up of the Technology Independent Job Requirements.
  • Help me fight my appetite throughout the day while staying healthy (my stomach is grumbling).
  • Occupy my attention for a few moments and give me a quick break (my mouth just gets bored).
  • Provide me with short periods of human interaction (my co-workers will visit m
    y desk to get a pretzel rod).
These requirements form the framework that Annie will use to make a decision at the time of purchase (what we see when we magnify the hire moment).

What Does The Pretzel Rod Compete With?

Because of how Annie may prioritize her job requirements, many items that seem like acceptable substitutions will not actually be considered:
  • Pretzel knots will still occupy my attention, and will help curb my appetite, but aren't as shareable (the person's entire hand goes into the bowl; not sanitary).
Also, because of the combination of job requirements, some items that marketers wouldn't consider as competition may be added to the consideration set:
  • Twizzlers may not completely satisfy Annie's need to stay healthy, but they are designed to be shared.
Think About Your Products

Do the people that market pretzels understand the jobs of pretzel rods and pretzel knots, and why they don't compete with each other? What else could Annie substitute that would fulfill her job requirements (leave your comments!)?

What are the jobs of your product? What falls into the consideration set when you magnify the hire moment?

2 comments:

Suzanne said...

Chris,
This is a very well written piece, however, I don't think I am smart enough to know what any of it means. Hmmm... Still interesting to read though. I better stick to teaching and nursing.

Annie Cushing said...

Excellent job, Chris. You hit the target spot on.

As the subject of this analysis, it was fun fielding your questions that made me think about what it was about pretzel rods that made them the quintessential snack for me. And, even though I like the texture of thinner pretzels better, they're not as sharable. So, in the end, the rods won out against their competition.

I think sometimes we engage in behaviors that are so rote to us, they hardly generate a blip on the radar. So it's kind of fun when someone comes along and says, "Interesting. Why do you do that?" :)

~Annie

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