McDonalds, Jobs to be Done and no milkshakes

I used the screens in my local McDonalds recently to customise a crispy chicken burger.  It gave me the choice of adding additional toppings or not.  After a few minutes I decided to go with their regular suggestion.  I loved the idea of the control but did not actually need to exercise it,  I suspect I am not alone. I did notice, and it had been a while since my last visit, that the options to completely build a burger from scratch were no longer available.

Jobs to be Done, JTBD, is a powerful framework to uncover underlying motivations behind why we buy. If companies stop designing around product features and imagined benefits and talk to people about their hidden motives often surfaces interesting insights and sometimes these can help us reimagine both our products and our communications.

I mention McDonalds and their touch screens because in the US, and here in Singapore at least, they have abandoned their full Create Your Taste redesign of their burger business.  It was almost certainly what the customer said they wanted and even needed from McD but when implemented it came with an extra helping of downsides that neither the customer or the company had expected: longer waits and bigger bills.

I can just imagine the product design team at McD fresh from Human Centred Design, Design Thinking or JTBD courses setting out to find out what customers needed, really talking to customers, empathising with them as mums buying dinner, dads taking the kids out for an afternoon, workers grabbing a quick lunch etc  and hearing back that they needed choice, control and personalised adventure.

Making changes based on insights is exactly what those of us who believe in customer centricity demand. McDonalds even prototyped the idea in one market, Australia, where interestingly Create Your Taste remains. As an aside this probably does indicate that needs can be different in different markets.

But in their main US market their customers while perhaps expressing the same motivations and needs perhaps forgot to add the caveats – but I still want it to be ready immediately and to stay at the same price.

We need to keep talking to our consumers but keep the McDonalds’ lesson in mind. While my Jobs to be Done when buying lunch multiple times over the whole year are driven by variety, entertainment and control as well as feeling fitter, treating others and lots of other needs, when I am actually standing in McDonalds they may be much more about “get something familiar quickly and cheaply” than what I might reveal in my JTBD interviews (adventure).

Don’t think that a Job revealed as the end of the conversation with customers.  Instead keep talking. If this is a need that is being addressed regularly see how well different solutions address this need at different times, and get the customer to bring to life different settings, moods and constraints.  Find out whether this need drives them in the big picture but is replaced by simpler more basic needs on many occasions.

2 thoughts on “McDonalds, Jobs to be Done and no milkshakes

    1. I agree Max. I think my suggestion that during JTBD interviews we should zoom back to look at regular repeated meeting of needs (as with food) fits very well with your approach to use laddering of evidence.

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