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"Unlocking The Bag: How McDonald's Turned Up & Watched The Milk Shake Skyrocket!



About a decade ago, McDonald's embarked on a mission to boost milkshake sales through their proficient marketing team and ample resources. Despite conducting interviews and focus groups aimed at enhancing milkshake attributes such as flavors and calories, the sales remained stagnant. Seeking a solution, they enlisted the expertise of Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen. Christensen's approach involved understanding the "job-to-be-done" that the milkshake fulfilled for customers.


A researcher observing a branch with high milkshake sales discovered an unexpected trend – half of these sales occurred before 8:30 a.m., and customers typically purchased a milkshake alone and immediately drove away. Upon direct inquiry, customers revealed they bought milkshakes to alleviate boredom during their morning commutes while also satiating hunger. These commuters had previously considered alternatives like bananas, donuts, or candy bars, but each had shortcomings, like short duration of satisfaction or messy consumption. The milkshake, however, provided a longer-lasting and convenient solution.


This revelation transformed McDonald's approach. They shifted their focus away from demographics and calorie content and instead concentrated on understanding the specific "job" customers hired the milkshake for. They increased milkshake thickness to extend consumption time and streamlined the purchasing process. With these insights, McDonald's launched a new campaign centered around these value propositions, resulting in a remarkable 400% increase in milkshake sales.


Christensen's "jobs-to-be-done" framework offered several benefits: enhancing product value by aligning it with customer needs, recognizing competition beyond direct rivals, and identifying unmet customer needs. By applying this framework, companies can create more effective products, refine existing offerings, and discover new business opportunities. This approach is exemplified by Starbucks founder Howard Schultz, who recognized the "job" of a third place between home and work and built Starbucks accordingly.


The framework entails three steps:

1. Shift focus from "who?" to "why?" by understanding the core job a product fulfills.

2. Design products intentionally for the identified job.

3. Recognize related jobs and expand opportunities based on this understanding.


Amazon's success with AWS is cited as an example of how focusing on solving a specific job can lead to innovative breakthroughs. In conclusion, Christensen's "jobs-to-be-done" framework offers a powerful way for businesses to align their products with customer needs and unlock new avenues for growth.

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