Rooting innovation in consumer needs: Uncovering opportunities with jobs-to-be-done segmentation

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Posted Aug 31, 2022
Matthew Mahan

To create products, services, and messaging strategies that are truly meaningful to your customers, you need to understand them. Consumer segmentation plays a critical role in helping business strategists learn about the differences between the individuals that form their target market. While looking into segmentation approaches, you may have heard of jobs-to-be-done or JTBD analysis. This methodology seeks to identify your customers’ specific goals or unmet needs. JTBD analysis is, on its own, useful in informing innovation-focused research and identifying opportunity areas.  When used as an input within a consumer segmentation, JTBD research helps ensure that development efforts are automatically grounded in the unique needs of a diverse target market. Today, we’ll break down exactly what JTBD analysis is and how you can use it to build powerful consumer segmentations that will allow you to uncover new opportunities and drive innovation in your organization. 

Lead with the end goal

To discover whether a JTBD segmentation will assist you with your own particular business challenge, and how to implement one if so, it’s first necessary to understand how the jobs-to-be-done theory differs from other innovation approaches you may have encountered.  While organizations looking to populate the top of their innovation funnel have long initiated their efforts with brainstorming activities, wherein team members and SMEs come together to ideate around problems and offerings, the jobs-to-be-done framework suggests a more structured approach and emphasizes the crucial role this step plays in developing sound strategies.

With any research leveraging JTBD theory, researchers must ignore the urge to present solutions to consumers for immediate feedback, and instead focus on listening; that is, work to understand the broad sweep of challenges that a consumer is trying to solve for when making a purchase decision for a particular product or service. Any and all data sources are valid in populating this list. 

Many innovation-focused research approaches begin with efforts to understand consumer needs at a high level, but it’s particularly important when utilizing a JTBD framework that this step be given the time and space necessary, so that teams are able to clearly define and, just as importantly, communicate these jobs-to-be-done in a concise, meaningful, and relatable way. In as few words as possible, what task is your customer truly trying to  accomplish? While creating this list, envision how the respondent will be interacting with your survey: they need to be able to read through a list of tasks, quickly and efficiently, and rate the degree to which each task is something they, personally, experience. This approach helps ensure the jobs are described in a way that will make them reliable inputs in quantitative research.

It’s useful to note that, on its own, the jobs-to-be-done framework is an effective way to support research plans whether your organization is searching for a promising “hunting ground” to inform a focused development effort, or you are filling a pipeline with content to feed a more agile build-measure-learn loop.

Benefits of a focus on JTBD

A JTBD orientation benefits innovation work in a number of ways. First and foremost, by focusing on the set of tasks a customer is attempting to complete, product, service, and marketing solutions derived from the work will come with “built-in” consumer relevance, resulting in a more robust and long-lived development program.

Another valuable benefit of JTBD research is that the results enable prioritization across several possible innovation workstreams. This allows researchers and business strategists to take what may be a daunting business objective at first and focus their efforts on the groups of jobs that are most prevalent in the market.

Finally, among the most impactful ways JTBD research is utilized in product, service, and marketing strategy is as a basis for consumer segmentation; that is, to aid in the grouping of customers based on common practices, behaviors, and characteristics. Customer segmentations that utilize JTBD inputs can describe and differentiate customers based not only on their preferences and demographics, but also on their driving need behind their purchasing behavior. This information is very powerful in developing strategies to reach specific customer subgroups or a suite of offerings that appeal to a diverse set of consumers.

Enter JTBD-based segmentation

When employed to develop customer segments, respondents typically encounter the list of jobs-to-be-done in the survey through a MaxDiff (Best/Worst Scaling) test. The MaxDiff evaluates the rank-order of prevalence/importance of each JTBD, plus the relative distance in between each item. Results from the MaxDiff battery are compiled, along with relevant respondent profile data that may include demographics, psychographics, and other category-specific findings from custom questions. Then, clustering is performed on these data points using either Latent Class Analysis, K-means evaluation, or a combination of both. The result is a robust and meaningful cluster solution that drives the definition of consumer segments. 

As mentioned above, by utilizing JTBDA inputs in the segmentation, you’re ensuring that this critical piece of strategic research is informed not only by differences in consumers’ traits and behaviors, but also by what they are looking to accomplish, which is extremely valuable information in developing products, services, and messages that appeal to the right people and take root.

JTBD and aytm

It should be clear that jobs-to-be-done market segmentation can bring many benefits to your organization. However, many companies don’t have the budget or team of professionals to run this kind of analysis  effectively. That’s where aytm can help. In addition to the most comprehensive and practical DIY market research tools, aytm also features a host of vital services that do the heavy lifting so you can focus on turning insights into action. With the JTBD segmentation service from aytm, you can unlock all the benefits we’ve discussed without any of the hassles of having to do it yourself. Learn more today about how you can use aytm to reveal innovation opportunities that can grow your business.