“If they don’t ask about the price it’s absolute bunk”

Jobs To Be Done Consideration Sets in Action


Spirit Airlines is the fastest growing, least liked airline in America according to NPR’s Planet Money podcast. They have a fascinating interview with Spirit Airlines CEO Ben Baldanza, which brings to the fore the topic of consideration sets.

Spirit Airlines is a low-cost no-frills airlines. You get rock-bottom prices and that’s about it. You are entreated with ads on the overhead compartments, you pay for water or pretzels on the flight, you pay extra for using the overhead bin, they squeeze more seats onto each plane…

You end up with a lot of complaints as well.

In the interview, the Planet Money reporter brings up some feedback from Consumer Report’s survey of airlines:

“Consumer Reports says: ‘Bottom ranked Spirit Airlines received one of the lowest overall scores for any company we’ve ever rated’”

To which the Baldanza replies: “They’re elitist. And I’ll tell you why — that survey never asked customers about the price of their ticket and since they don’t ask about the price, it’s absolute bunk…”

And he’s absolutely right. If Consumer Reports left out price in their survey, they are leaving out an important (perhaps the most important) feature that airline consumers actually use to make purchase decisions. The cost of the ticket.

In Jobs To Be Done interviews, you are often trying to tease out something called the “consideration set” of a person. A consideration set is an prioritized understanding of the purchase options someone weighs before making a purchase decision. It’s prioritized because we all make “trade-offs” when we purchase.

Trade-offs are when a buyer shows which features are truly important and which are not as important. In the podcast, they explain something that economists have known for a long time — “stated preferences” — what a person says they want, are often different from “revealed preferences” — what a person actually choses when they purchase something.

In other words, when you ask someone what they would like, they will tell you their stated preferences — “More leg room, free pretzels”, but when you ask them what they actually did, they might say something different- “Bought the one with cheaper tickets.” All of these things are used in their consideration set, but some of them are more important.

So remember this the next time you send out a survey or conduct an interview, consider the whole consideration set — because if you don’t, it might just be a load of absolute bunk…