In today’s hyper-competitive landscape, companies are constantly vying for consumers’ attention, but do you really know who you are competing against?

The jobs-to-be-done theory asserts that consumers look to products to get ‘jobs done’. Whether that be to help them accomplish a task, overcome a problem, set and achieve goals or to track progress.

Let’s think about a use-case

Imagine that you plan to launch a subscription-based fitness app that provides on-demand workouts. It might seem obvious to research similar apps in the market.

However, if you focus on what consumers are looking to achieve – your biggest competition might actually be outside of your sector. For example, a new diet plan, community based workout classes or even cosmetic surgery. It all depends on what motivates the user and their desired outcome.

To stay ahead of the game, it’s essential for product teams to understand what ‘job’ their solution ‘does’ for their users, and who else satisfies that goal in the market. It’s important to think beyond the conventional boundaries of your product vision and consider your users physical and psychological motivations.

Define the problem that you ‘think’ you are trying to solve.

When guiding clients through ideation, we start with the product hypotheses, asking ‘why’ this product and ‘what problem’ are they trying to solve.

Launching a product or a brand takes more than just an idea. There needs to be a driving force.

A brave idea that will make a genuine difference to the end user based on the ‘job’ they want the product to deliver for them.


What other reasons could people be using your product?

Considering what users may be getting from your product is key in thinking about your competitor set. This is where psychology comes into play. A user’s motivation for a fitness app might go beyond obvious considerations.

For example, if they want to exercise to “blow off steam because they are stressed”, a competitive set might include anything from meditation apps for taking time out to music streaming services used whilst taking a walk.

Who could be satisfying this need outside your industry?

We encourage product teams to create multiple competitor sets for each user’s motivation to better understand their customer.

Creating multiple competitor sets helps product teams identify potential gaps in the market.


How can you differentiate your product from the competition?

We actively look at opportunities to create unique solutions for end user’s motivations.

The more holistically you can encapsulate the job-to-be-done, the more likely they are to switch from whatever solution they currently use today.


Article image credits
Captain Creps

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Contact us


Kate Cargill

Consultant, Brand Experience

With 15 years of B2C brand and product experience and a MSc in Psychology, Kate helps companies predict, influence and navigate consumer behaviour.

Chris Sherrick

Managing Partner

Chris consults with market leaders helping them leverage design and innovation to deliver business impact.

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