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The Jobs that 5-Hour Energy Drink is Hired For

Chris Spiek

In this week’s episode of Jobs-To-Be-Done Radio we examine energy-related jobs and the 5 Hour Energy Drink product through the lens of Jobs-To-Be-Done.

Bob talks through how the Kano Model can be used to categorize dimensions of value once the jobs have been defined, and the pitfalls that can be avoided by doing so (spending time and money optimizing around the wrong product attributes).  We also discuss how to approach the identification of jobs that have a ritualistic or emotional aspect to them.

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All right this is Douglas Crets. We’re back with Re-Wired Radio or as we like to call it at the Re-Wired Group, Jobs-To-Be-Done Radio, and we’re talking with Bob Moesta and Chris Spiek, two of the partners at Re-Wired Group. We’re doing another Jobs-To-Be-Done discussion about competitive sets involving things that consumers choose to get jobs done for them.

The last time we talked we were talking about LinkedIn and Quora and the competition for the Q&A for consumers. Sort of like what are those two things doing to get the consumers Q&A job done.

Now we’re talking about the difference between competitors in the energy drinks space. The ones that come to mind are Red Bull and 5-hour ENERGY® and coffee. Bob, why don’t you bring us into this little set up here? Why are these things different? And why are we trying to search for the difference here?

Bob:                          I think part of it gets back to how do you take a very powerful thing like 5-hour ENERGY® and walk into a space where there are very big competitors and literally disrupt it?

It’s to really articulate the different thinking that 5-hour ENERGY® from the outside and throwing the Jobs Framework on it, how it actually becomes so successful despite the fact that if you were to look at the category you’d say, “We don’t need another energy drink.” Yet it’s there.

Part of it is to realize how do you look at spaces and find those cracks were things like 5-hour ENERGY® can go in and have a very dominant position despite the fact that Red Bull and Monster and Rip It®, there’s all these different kinds of energy drinks that are out there and literally they’ve got a very solid position in the market.

Most people would say there would be no opportunity, yet 5-hour ENERGY® has come up to say, “There is a way to get to it.”

Doug:                       Okay. Is there a way to just… I would like to make sure that people listening maybe for the first time or even people who have come back. Can’t you just briefly, Bob, tell people why do we use Jobs-To-Be-Done? Is it specifically to find room for competition or is it room to find innovation? Help people to understand that and then we’re going to figure this energy drink thing.

Bob:                          The Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework really is about almost taking the telescope and looking through the other end. Most of the time when you are developing products you look through your product out to the market and say, “Who needs this product? Who needs this software?”

Then you basically ladder and connect based on looking through the product lens. The Jobs-To-Be-Done lens really is irrelevant to the product form that you’re looking at and irrelevant of the set. It’s really about what are the situations where people are looking to pull products into their lives? What are they thinking about as a consideration set?

All of a sudden you realize that people don’t think in product categories. They think in solution terms. So what is the true solution set and consideration set that people are looking to hire from?

The Job notion comes that people hire products and services to do jobs for themselves irrelevant of product types and is understanding that hiring process and the important cues and considerations and then how well those products and services do the job is basically where growth comes from. They steal from other categories or steal from other things that they stop using.

Doug:                       Great.

Bob:                          So the notion… Chris, do you want to add anything?

Chris:                       No, I think you’ve got it spot on. Let’s dive a little bit into 5-hour ENERGY®. I don’t know if we just want to pontificate on some of the jobs, but it’s just by looking at their advertising and the way that they have wedged themselves in, it is somewhat obvious that they are attacking a couple of different segments are personas that they have identified such as we see a lot of advertizing around the “two o’clock feeling” or the “three o’clock feeling,” or, “I’ve got to get myself through this last part of the day.”

Then we also have, I think, more recently seen a more frontal attack on the coffee market…

Doug:                       Yep.

Chris:                       …where you have people who are drinking in the morning when they don’t have time for coffee but they need but the boost and it’s an easier delivery mechanism.

One thing that struck me as really interesting when, Bob, you and I started talking about this last week, was the attempt at displacing something that has a habitual or ritualistic nature to it.

Bob:                          Right, going after coffee, is like, “Oh my gosh, how would you think about going after coffee?”

Doug:                       Yeah, I love my coffee. I’m a little personally offended at it, if I’m to be honest.

Bob:                          Right.

Chris:                       Yeah offending interests works. At the point at which Bob and I talked last week about this I was actually was in my home office, had my laptop open, was going through the morning Wall Street Journal. I had coffee with cream in it and we started down this path of 5-hour ENERGY®.

I had the same sort of feeling of, “You’re going to displace this incredibly indulgent, rich experience that is warming. It’s winter here in Detroit. It’s soothing, it slowly wakes me up with this shotgun blast of sugar and syrup and all that sort of thing.

It was one of those things where, I was able to kind of understand my situational context in my moment. I won’t say it was a slow morning because no mornings are really slow but I had the time to make the coffee. Enjoy the coffee. Read the paper. Get on the phone. That sort of thing and it obviously felt very foreign to be able to think about injecting something like 5-hour ENERGY® into that.

Bob:                          Right and to that point, really you’re not hiring something new. You’re enjoying the moment with the coffee. So to think of trying to wage 5-hour ENERGY® into that moment isn’t there.

But if you think about moments where you wanted to have a coffee and you didn’t, so if you look back over the last week and say, “I’m running out the door. God, I’m not going to be able to get a coffee. I’ve got to run to the airport. I’ve got to do this, and this. I’m not going to be able to have my coffee until I get to the airport, or whatever.”

The fact is all of a sudden it’s what we call the “nonconsumption opportunities.” Where you wanted to have coffee but you didn’t that literally a 5-hour ENERGY® can slide in there.

Doug:                       Yep.

Bob:                          It’s those things where, again, I don’t think it’s to try to take a frontal assault to coffee, I think it’s trying to look at those nonconsumption opportunities where, “God, when did I want have a coffee and I didn’t?” Or, “When did I want to have something, and I didn’t have it with me?” It’s small enough. It can be with you. It’s almost like your “on you, with you” kind of energy, your own battery, if you will.

It’s a very interesting around going after what I would call nonconsumption. Instead of trying to say, “We need a coffee flavor version of this for the morning because customers want it this way.” The reality is that if you really go that route you’re going to kill yourself. It’s the fact of staying separate and going after those nonconsumption moments that are crucial.

Doug:                       Let me…

Bob:                          Oh, go ahead, Doug.

Doug:                       I just wanted to ask a question though. I can kind of understand that intuitively. That there might be a spot in my day where I don’t really know what I want to use to fill that opportunity but I know I need something like that.

Bob:                          Right.

Doug:                       So what happens from the standpoint of, “Wow, 5-hour ENERGY® drink really got successful at tinkling that opportunity for me.” Do you think that would change my feelings about coffee and then I would start reaching for something else instead of coffee more often? And change that landscape?

If that’s true what happens then to finding new opportunities? Does 5-hour ENERGY® drink sort of drift along the spectrum of those opportunities?

Bob:                          Yeah. I think that’s exactly right. I think that’s the notion of hatching a new product versus seeding a new product. I think once you get into the consideration set it’s now all of a sudden in the morning, “Do I have time for my coffee or do I go to my 5-hour ENERGY®?”

It’s the first couple of times they get people to think about it. A lot of times people are not actually taking the time to look through their consideration. You could have a Coke, there’s a lot of other things you could have. Once you seep into the consideration set it’s now all of a sudden there’s explicit choices being made.

So part of it is it’s those moments where you really want a coffee but you can’t. It’s like hitting those really high emotional opportunities where it’s like, “I’m dying for something but I don’t have time.” Once it’s there it’s like, “Hey, I’ve got that in my backpack or I’ve got that in the office.”

All of a sudden it becomes part of the, “All right, what am I going to have? Am I going to have a Red Bull?” In our office we have Red Bull. We have Coke. We have water. We have 5-hour ENERGY®. We have vitamins. We have kind of all those different kinds of things. Literally now it’s an explicit decision to say, “It’s 2:30, what do I want?”

Doug:                       The other thing that we can touch on, not to get too far off topic, the idea of actual behavior change is rooted in this.

What would actually be a tipping point in a consumer’s life where because there is the introduction of this new solution, can I actually change my morning routine by saying, “The 5-hour ENERGY® is not nearly as indulgent as the cup of coffee. I do enjoy the cup of coffee but, can I actually sleep in 15 minutes later because the 5-hour ENERGY® will get me going and I don’t have to brew the coffee and make the coffee and find my travel tumbler that I’m going to take in my car.” I can actually rearrange my morning and say I’m still going to show up at work energized. I can ditch the coffee. It doesn’t happen all the time but it enables that behavior change to occur.

Bob:                          One of the things it has actually helped me with is the notion of I don’t have coffee until you go downstairs for breakfast.

I have an elliptical upstairs where I work out. All of a sudden you start to realize, I can hop in bed. Have my 5-hour ENERGY®. And actually I find myself getting up earlier and working out. Actually the advertisers, they gave me the notion of it because usually it’s like I need my coffee to go work out. It’s like I need to wake up. It’s one of those things that’s really interesting that it’s now enabled me to do some different things.

This is a personal thing, but for the most part once it gets in that repertoire it’s very, very, you start to realize you can do a lot more things with it.

The other thing it does though it’s 5-hour ENERGY® and it’s seven o’clock, “Yeah, I don’t want one of those because I want be up at midnight.”

There are some places where I would say you have nonconsumption opportunities with it to say, “Boy, I need the energy but I don’t need it to last as long.”

Chris:                       Yeah.

Bob:                          It creates its own barrier in some cases.

Doug:                       That’s happened to me countless times. Most specifically just traveling and doing consulting work. You end up in a situation where you probably woke up and got on a plane in the morning, it’s now seven o’clock at night. You’re either going to dinner with your colleagues or the clients and you need to make it till 9 or 10 o’clock at night but you know after that, or possibly later. If you energize too much, you can’t fall asleep. You have a full morning of work ahead of you the next day and you’re just going to be toast because you’re going to be up all night. There is that little, once again, it’s like a data point of one.

Bob:                          But it’s where you reach for it. The nonconsumption is really the point that we’re trying to bring out. There’s opportunities when you go to reach for something and when you don’t. That’s an opportunity to say, “Well what else could you have had that would’ve allowed you to do it? It literally sneaks in to allow you to make progress in new ways.

This whole notion of the push of the situation and the notion of the idea and anxiety of that solution, the dynamics of that really is very powerful to look at, to understand.

The other thing I want to actually just touch on for second is some work I did a long time ago with Dr. Kano and what they call the Kano Model.

The whole notion is that people spend so time worrying about how much people like a product. If you really understand the job that’s going on here, it’s not about how much they like the flavor of the 5-hour ENERGY®, it’s actually really is part of the experience. Nobody would say they like the 5-hour ENERGY®, especially on the first couple times. It becomes a learned behavior.

The whole thing is this. It’s almost like you need to understand what they call the dysfunctional side of it. Most people talk about how much they like the flavor from 1 to 9, or whatever. The reality is, it’s “How much do you dislike to flavor?” As long as it’s something you’re not going to spit out, it actually adds to the value of the product. It takes it away from that hedonic state.

They can spend a lot of time saying, “How do we make this taste better and better and better?” People aren’t going to actually consume more of it because it tastes better. They’re going to consume more of it because it works for them in the job context.

The flavor aspect as much as people would say, “Oh, I don’t like to flavor,” it’s one of those things where as a company you would say, “Oh, we need to work on flavor. It’s the number one complaint.” My aspect is, “Don’t waste your time.” Find new situations where they can do it.

There aren’t people who aren’t drinking it because they don’t like it. They’re not drinking it because it’s not the right time or it’s not the right thing. As much as consumers say one thing, it’s about behavior and what they do. Kano actually offers a way in which to look at these attributes that consumer say and really put them in context so you don’t over invest in trying to say, “All right. We need to come up with 15 more flavors to do this.”

I can see if a big corporation was to take 5-hour ENERGY® that’s the first thing they’d do. “We need to get top two box on “liking” for the “liking” list.

Doug:                       Against, against, Red Bull and Monster.

Bob:                          Against Monster and it would be like, “Why are you wasting your time?” It’s one of those things where they will spend millions of dollars to fix it but they won’t.

Doug:                       Let me bring it back really quick to something because as a layman here I would have something that confuses me, but I think that I understand.

Intuitively I’m thinking about progress. I think what you’re saying, Bob, is a lot of the companies that are trying to find our position their brand in the market are trying to find progress for the product. “Let’s make it better, and better, and better.” They think of progress as, “Oh it’s just such a great product that nobody can say, ‘No’ to it.”

Bob:                          That’s right.

Doug:                       You’re saying something more about consumers need to seek progress.

I guess where I’m getting a little washed out in my head is, “What qualifies as progress? Is that singular to the individual? Or are there certain things that when we’re talking about energy drinks for example are obviously examples of progress? Can someone doing this kind of interviewing with the consumer say, “Oh yeah, yeah, that’s progress.” How do you pinpoint that stuff?

Chris:                       Just to close the loop on the Kano Model. I think I’ll let Bob answer that question. I think that the biggest point is that you need to understand the way that consumers define the progress in the situation.

Doug:                       Okay.

Chris:                       If you’re going after the wrong dimension. If flavor is obviously one of the obvious dimensions of value of something that you’re going to consume or drink like 5-hour ENERGY®. It’s how most of the experience actually occurs outside of the packaging. It’s an easy thing to gravitate towards to say, “Hey, we can help consumers make more progress by making this taste better and then they’ll drink more.”

I think what Bob is saying is when you tease out all those different dimensions of value, portability and speed and absorption, and all that sort of thing, taste is probably going to be one of those things that is probably at the bottom of the list. It’s like one of those fundamentals that you can’t violate it and make it taste horrible because then we’re just out of the running completely.

Doug:                       Right.

Chris:                       But it can’t be at the top. I wanted to clarify that. You might’ve already been clear about that.

Bob:                          The ultimate thing of how do you actually find people and how they find progress is… The way we go about it is we actually actively seek what we call struggling moments. Where do people want to do something but they don’t? Or where are they doing something and they know that it’s not the best?

Where do they struggle in their life? Struggle implies that they want to do something better. Those are the things. I can’t talk to people about Tide® if they are using it all the time. Where they struggle to switch, “Yeah this isn’t getting good enough. I’m going to switch.” Or “I’m struggling. I just switched because I can save some money.”

Then they are struggling on different dimensions. It’s understanding where they, and how they struggle. At that point that’s the thing where they can’t make the decision to make the progress.

So we always talk about the switching mechanisms and understanding where people have switched recently. Again, it’s not about saying, “Tell me what you like about coffee. When do you drink coffee? Let’s talk about energy and coffee.” It’s more about, “Tell me about the last time you wanted a coffee and you drank something else.” “Tell me about the last time you wanted a coffee and you didn’t get anything.”

What you find is throughout the day, if you ask people about it. We have a process we will pull out over a week people will diary struggling moments. You realize that people struggle a lot on a lot of things. They’re not big things but there’s always these considerations of how to make the decisions and how do they actually frame it? When do they actually make the decision versus they think about the decision?

Part of it is always talking to people about that process of making the choice and delivering on it as opposed to talking to people who just say, “Yeah, I want to move but I haven’t moved yet.” Those who don’t tell me anything, I have to…

Doug:                       Exactly.

Bob:                          Struggling moments who’ve actually overcome the struggle. Embedded in that struggling moment is the value code of what they are willing to trade off in order to make the progress.

The value code is the secret part of this thing. Once you understand the value code, you realize, “I don’t need to work on flavor because it’s not about flavor. It’s about the fact that they can have it with them any time and it be with them. I’m not going to compete against coffee. I’m going to compete against the fact that they like coffee, and can’t have it.”

Doug:                       Great point.

Bob:                          That’s the opportunity!

Doug:                       We have a few more minutes, Chris, maybe we can lay some things out for our future call. Also maybe you can help us wrap up what we may have learned here in this discussion.

Chris:                       Sure. On the next episode I think we’re actually going to have a special guest on from the software world that actually is a platform manager, a platform director that manages a portfolio of software products and he’s actually applying the Jobs-To-Be-Done Framework in some pretty cool ways.

Doug:                       Great.

Chris:                       We’re definitely looking forward to having him on. Why don’t you wrap it up?

Bob:                          To me the thing is that a lot of times the Jobs Framework, it’s not a silver bullet. What it is, it’s a way in which to look at a market and be able to understand how to take technology and apply it to a market so you can find the chink in the armor. Find the crack that can literally allow you to grow it to something else.

As much as there’s all this, I’ll say, marketing research that will help us find white space, this is about being able to see the white space with the right thing because it’s where people struggle. To me the Jobs-To-Be-Done framework is a very powerful thing to be able to find where people are willing to switch and allow you to see the white space so it can grow into a big business like 5-hour ENERGY®.

Doug:                       That’s wonderful stuff. If anyone wants to follow up with this and if they want to listen to more of these podcast they are always going to be hosted at You can listen to the Quora and LinkedIn podcast we did last week. It’s already up there.

And for a full range of articles about what Jobs-To-Be-Done means, those are also housed on You can follow @bmoesta on Twitter. You can also follow @chriscbs on Twitter. You can follow me at @DouglasCrets on Twitter and there’s also a   Re-Wired account on Twitter at @rewiredinc.

If you have any questions and if anybody wants to suggest topics or has advice to give on things that they’d like to hear about, please shoot us an e-mail or leave a comment on the blog or get in touch with us on Twitter.

Folks, it’s been a pleasure. Chris? Bob?

Chris:                       Let me say one more thing. I think that the point is that I’m working with Clay. Clay is really trying to emphasize the point of we need to get the word out more about this and so that’s partially why we’re doing this on radio, but, really the interaction of people, to be honest, if you would like to come on and be a guest speaker, let us know and let us know the topic and would love to be able to talk about that.

Any topics, again, we can be as generic as we need to be but one of the challenges we have is that we have to pick things that we are not bound by confidentiality to talk about.

The more as you listen to these if you can suggest topics we’re more than happy to kind of throw our lens and our frame on this and have a conversation about it. Please, reach out to us and let us know.

We’re been trying to do one of these, sometimes two a week. We can get more and more of the practitioner base aware of what’s going on and build practitioners.

Bob:                          I think a couple of other things, too, and is, one, Doug, you’re never going to be able to do that nice clean wrap-up that you always wanted to do.

Doug:                       I know.

Bob:                          I think we’re always going to interject a bunch of stuff when you get done with your cool little outro.

A couple of things to add, one, I think people really should go on to Quora like we talked about last week and followed the Jobs-To-Be-Done topic. Beyond just us, there’s a ton of people contributing and asking some cool questions.

Also for iPhone and iTunes users, we are in the iTunes library as a podcast. So if you search for “Jobs-To-Be-Done Radio” you can find us there.

I had a third one but I can’t remember. I think that’s it.

Chris:                       Great, thanks, Doug.

Doug:                       Okay. No problem. Here’s your outro, “See you all later. Bye.”

Chris:                       Yep. See you.

Bob:                          Bye, Doug.

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