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HBX Business Blog

An IPO With a Soul: How the "Job to Be Done" Brought Strategic Focus to SoulCycle

Posted by Bryan Guerra on August 10, 2015 at 2:53 PM

Spin class participants

Think SoulCycle’s secret to success is all loud music and loads of sweat? Think again.

With an 85% loyalty rate among its riders, SoulCycle is a prime example of a company that’s perfectly nailed its customers’ “job to be done,” built all the right experiences around that "job", and then let its marketing and branding follow suit. In doing so, the company elevated itself into a “purpose brand," resonating with consumers and turning one-time riders into “soul” advocates.

The jobs-to-be-done framework was developed by Harvard Business School Professor Clayton Christensen to explain why people make the consumption choices they do. What makes this idea so powerful is that the job to be done pinpoints exactly what actually causes consumers to purchase one particular product or service over another under a given circumstance.

Consider for a moment what job health consumers are really trying to solve: most health clubs and fitness studios would probably tell you that it’s to get more fit. Sure, this may be true. However, it's not the full story. For some consumers, gyms are “hired" for their social and emotional aspects - the feeling of being a part of something bigger, or of having that moment of catharsis when you know you've pushed yourself to the limit. When viewed in this context, it may not just be another gym you are competing with to fulfill this job; alternatives might include running a marathon, joining a book group with friends, or even a night out at the club.

In discovering this job to be done, SoulCycle was able to tailor its product in an entirely differentiated way and then integrate all the right experiences around it. From the moment of check-in until the end of the ride, the SoulCycle experience is designed to deliver on aspects of community, atmosphere, emotion, storytelling, and most of all, being part of a movement that is bigger than yourself (not to mention providing a pretty darn good workout).

To learn more about jobs to be done, and how to get more customers to hire your product or service, check out HBX Disruptive Strategy.

Topics: Business Fundamentals, Disruptive Strategy, HBX Insights