What's More Important: Form or Function?

Would you rather be seen drinking a “diet” soda or a “zero sugar” soda? Your social Jobs to Be Done will answer that question.

In the last few years, several major soft drink companies introduced zero sugar sodas. Some of them — Coke Zero Sugar and Dr. Pepper Zero Sugar, for example — were line extensions with minimal ingredient changes that complemented their diet soda counterparts. In other cases, however, the new offerings were simply rebrands (e.g. Diet Canada Dry rebranded as Canada Dry Zero Sugar).

It’s been well established that we often buy products because of how they make us look to others. I can quench my thirst (functional Job to Be Done) with bottled water, energy drinks, sports drinks or alcoholic beverages. Each of those options conveys something different about me. Do I want to look healthy? Edgy? Athletic? Sophisticated? All of those are social Jobs to Be Done.

For some people, drinking a diet soda can send an undesirable “I’m on a diet” message. These same people, however, might happily consume that product rebranded as a zero sugar soda. Indeed, Coke’s financial results suggest that there are a lot of those people now consuming soda for the first time.

In the end, sometimes changing a product’s “form” — and the identity message it sends — is far more impactful than changing its function.