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Understanding Customers: The Jobs to Be Done Theory Applied in the Context of a Rural Food Pantry

Vaterlaus, J. Mitchell, Cottle, Natalie Martineau, Patten, Emily Vaterlaus, Gibbons, Robyn
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2018 v.118 no.10 pp. 1895-1902
case studies, consumers (people), data collection, dietetics, females, food pantries, food security, interviews, males, surveys, Montana
Food insecurity, and particularly rural food insecurity, has unique challenges associated with it. Understanding the customer or patron needs is increasingly important in resolving this national concern. The Jobs to Be Done Theory posits that when considering customers, it is beneficial to move past demographic profiling and focus on what the customer wants to accomplish by using a particular product or service.This qualitative study aimed to determine customers’ jobs to be done at a rural food pantry. In addition, it seeks to demonstrate the application of contemporary management theory to dietetics practice.A case study approach was used in this study. Case study data collection procedures included six male and six female food pantry patrons in Montana completing in-depth, audio-recorded interviews and surveys. Each person’s interview and survey were constructed into individual case descriptions; the case descriptions were analyzed using uniform categories determined by researchers. To identify themes in the holistic case, word tables were created for each uniform category and assessed for key themes representing patrons’ experiences.The key themes that emerged were the customer in context, customers’ food relief needs, connecting with customers, and barriers to utilization.The application of Jobs to Be Done Theory to rural food pantry customers demonstrates that demographic segmentation does not capture the social, emotional, and functional dimensions for this sample. Investigation of customer experiences, circumstances, and obstacles is important for improving dietetics services.