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Jobs-to-be-Done - explained using grocery shopping apps

Updated: May 27

Wichtigkeit des Innovationsmanagement

Are you still developing and deploying apps, or have you already made a positive impact on your users?

When developing new products or services, it is crucial to understand the actual functional, emotional, and social needs and motivations of the people behind the customers, what they are trying to achieve, and what is hindering them. A mindset that helps with this is the Jobs-to-be-Done (JTBD) framework. Using the example of shopping apps like Bring, Listonic, Pon, Überliste, etc., I will illustrate the difference between traditional innovation approaches and the application of JTBD.

Traditional approach (Inside-out innovation)

In the traditional approach, product development focuses more on what the company believes its customer segments want rather than focusing on the actual individual needs and deriving patterns of unmet needs from them. Suppose a company aims to develop a shopping app. They might assume that customers primarily need a function to create and check off shopping lists. Additional features like recipe suggestions or displaying current offers from retailers might be added to generate advertising revenue for the company. This approach is based on the company assuming it knows what customers want, without having a deep insight into the root causes of the actual needs.

Jobs-to-be-Done approach (Outside-in innovation)

The JTBD approach goes deeper and starts with identifying the "jobs" people want to get done, the progress they want to make, and what is hindering them (struggles). This approach considers the entire customer journey from beginning to end. Using our shopping app example: interviews might reveal that users not only need a shopping list but are looking for solutions to accommodate their family's individual needs before shopping, including saving time during shopping and preparing healthy meals, especially when in a hurry (e.g., before sports). The app could also help manage the budget and take special dietary needs or intolerances into account. Based on these insights, the app could offer personalized menu suggestions, track the budget, and send notifications about special offers, as well as provide recipes based on available time, allergens, or calorie information. Additionally, features could be integrated to find missing ingredients in the local community or share excess food with others to reduce waste. The moments when users struggle to achieve their goals (outcomes) represent unmet needs, which can potentially form the basis for innovations. By developing features based on such needs, products and services are created that the market wants (not just the provider).


Applying Jobs-to-be-Done in product development can be crucial in creating products that truly meet customer needs and feel unique from the customer's perspective. Instead of focusing solely on the product's features, this approach helps understand the context and motivations of customers. This enables companies to develop products and services that are better tailored to the actual needs of customers, thereby increasing the chances of success.

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