Consumer-Centric Jobs to be Done Leads to Innovation for Chicago Startup Farmer’s Fridge

Farmer’s Fridge is a Chicago startup we’ve featured for years when getting our clients inspired to think outside of the box via our Trends and Analogs. We love Farmer’s Fridge’s courage in bringing fresh food to market in a novel format: a vending machine. When the chance to come alongside this flourishing startup arose, we couldn’t help but join their energetic team for some lean research.

The Challenge: Understand customer Jobs to Be Done to inspire the Farmer’s Fridge innovation pipeline.

The Constraints: This busy team set aside two hours to kick this work off and will pick it up as time allows in the future. As a startup, they don’t have a dedicated research budget like a Bigco has – nor should they. Therefore, the research needed to be free, with a coupon incentive for participants.

The Approach:

Over some snacks from the Fridge (a Spindrift and chocolate trail mix), The Garage Group onboarded the three Farmer’s Fridge team members to a quick Jobs to Be Done primer, so we could all listen in the Jobs to Be Done lens and ask questions that would help uncover Jobs.

Next, customer intercepts were conducted in teams. In the Merchandise Mart at lunch, ample customers came to the Fridge. Using a rough discussion guide about 25 five-minute intercepts were conducted.

When we started hearing the same themes repeated, we sat back down for 30 minutes of debrief. During this time, we re-grounded ourselves in what makes a good Job to Be Done, emphasizing that it’s solution agnostic. Then, we wrote 10+ Jobs to Be Done that we heard various customers express. 

The Farmer’s Fridge team began to dream about what activations of these Jobs to Be Done might look like. Finally, we discussed recommended next steps: a quick quantitative test on the Jobs to Be Done to prioritize and narrow (which can be done via their customer database and a simple/free survey) and a divergent ideation session to help them bring innovation to life under the top Job(s) to Be Done.

In two hours, the Farmer’s Fridge team walked away with a new lens to think through, as well as 10+ customer-informed Jobs to Be Done to frame and prioritize their future innovation pipeline under. While the process isn’t complete, the team will revisit as they’re able, making it an iterative and accessible means of making progress without spending days and thousands of dollars.

Because of their end-to-end ownership of delivery, Farmer’s Fridge will be able to launch-and-learn on new menu items with relative simplicity vs. other commerce channels.

“This methodology is so helpful as we think about future innovation processes and how best to prioritize where we are focusing our efforts!” –Emily Splett, Director of Menu Development, Farmer’s Fridge

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