Milkshakes in the Morning

Case Study


May 22, 2018


jobs to be done


When you first thinking about milkshakes, you might think that people are buying them because they’re hungry, they like the taste, they like the consistency. If you asked them if they would like milkshakes with different thicknesses or flavors, they would most likely tell you yes. However, you could change the milkshakes to meet what you think they want – what they told you they want, only to find that this doesn’t cause customers to buy more milkshakes.


Jobs-to-be-Done Interview


When we started interviewing consumers about milkshakes, we found we uncovered two separate jobs they were looking accomplish.

“What these milk shake buyers had in common had nothing to do with their individual demographics. Rather, they all shared a common job they needed to get done in the morning: ‘Help me stay awake and occupied while I make my morning commute more fun.’”

We had identified the job for the morning milkshake buyer. However, we also found that other customers were buying milkshakes at other times during the day, outside of the morning commute job. This was another job: the parent who wants to give their child a special treat in the afternoon.

“In that moment, the milkshake isn’t competing against a banana or a Snickers bar or a doughnut, like the morning milkshake is. It’s competing against stopping at the toy store.”


The key insight from the milkshake example is that “People hired milkshakes for two very different jobs during the day, in two very different circumstances. Each job has a very different set of competitors… and therefore was being evaluated as the best solution according to very different criteria.”

Our JTBD work on milkshakes is featured in Clayton Christensen’s latest book Competing Against Luck. Watch him speak about it below.

Professor Clayton Christensen Talking about JTBD and Milkshakes