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A New GIG: How Businesses Can Boost Sales by Exploring ‘Jobs to Be Done’

Posted On  December 7, 2020

Shortly after states and counties issued stay-at-home orders early in the pandemic, some companies also paused their market research as they waited for things to settle down, not wanting to invest in understanding what they hoped would be a short-term marketplace aberration.  But here we are, nine months later (a lifetime in some industries!), and health officials say that we can expect the pandemic to continue well into 2021, and possibly even longer.

As the sustained crisis and the resulting changes in consumer behavior have sunk in with marketers, we find that many companies are now rushing to conduct studies that can refresh their foundational understanding of how to do business in the “new normal” or the “next normal.”

Fortunately, there’s an insights solution for brands to better understand the new demand landscape in which they are operating.

What‘s your brand’s next GIG?

Clayton Christensen’s “Jobs to Be Done” approach to product innovation argues that when we buy a product, we essentially “hire” it to help us do a job. The same person is likely to have a variety of jobs within a product category and hire different brands for each job.  Material’s GIG (Goals, Impulses, Gaps) framework is our spin on the “Jobs to Be Done” approach.  This method is particularly well suited to identifying, sizing, and assessing the opportunity associated with the various jobs (i.e., GIGs) for which people might buy or use your product.

A GIG study can build a robust profile of the functional, emotional, social, and situational needs that drive consumer choices on different occasions. In addition to understanding the needs, you will see the traits of the people or households who are most likely to experience them, as well as when and where these jobs get done.

You may have an existing jobs framework in place at your organization (though your company may refer to it as “need states”). For example, a fast food restaurant might know that the range of jobs they serve includes “Satisfy my craving,” “Keep my kids happy,” “Quick bite on-the-go,” “Affordable family feast”, “Co-workers lunch,” and “Road trip rest stop.”

But due to the sweeping changes affecting nearly every sector of the economy, the relative revenue potential of these jobs has likely shifted dramatically, suggesting you should invest your messaging and innovation efforts differently from before. Furthermore, the old list may no longer capture all of the jobs for which people are using your products or services. What are the new fast food jobs? They may be things like “Only option open in lockdown,” “Still tasty when delivered,” and “Break from mom’s cooking.”

What GIGs should your brand take on?

By sizing the prevalence of different GIGs and the spending (of time or money) associated with them, you can determine which ones present the greatest economic opportunity.

By measuring your brand or product’s current performance with (or perceived appropriateness for) each of these GIGs, you can assess your opportunity to win. By leveraging our Pragmatic Brain Science® team’s understanding of habit formation and change, you can identify spaces most ripe for disruption — those where you have the greatest chance of stealing share (or losing it!).

Based on this combination of economic opportunity and capturability, a GIG study will help you identify the priority usage occasions in order to target your messaging, products, or innovation efforts. For example:

  • If you compete in a repertoire category where most people choose from an array of brands each time they are faced with a job, you should protect those GIGs where you are strong and seek opportunities to expand in ones where you are weak.
  • If you are a subscription service or payments product, where you have the opportunity to serve all of a consumers’ needs once you clear the adoption hurdle, you should prioritize those GIGs that can drive acquisition, retention, or incremental spend.

Does your brand need a full-time job instead?

A GIG study is not for everyone, though.  In some categories, consumers make a one-time decision that lasts for years and applies to all usage occasions.  In durables, for example, your focus may need to remain on the person-level consumer segments whose attitudes and full range of needs determine which ONE refrigerator (or washer, car, home, insurance policy, etc.) best meets their needs overall.

It’s important to understand that your person- and occasion-based segmentations will serve as the foundation for your business’ most critical marketing and product decisions over the next couple of years. Don’t leave these vital decisions to chance! If you’re struggling to decide whether to update your segments with person-based or GIG insights – or even if you need to update your segments at all – our team of marketing and data science experts are standing by to help you evaluate your existing framework’s relevance.



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