As part of our ongoing How to Engage series, Senior Creative Strategist, Laura Lutz, discusses the pursuit of self-optimisation, the rise of the Transformation Economy and what this means for brands.
In an attempt to constantly quantify themselves, today’s consumers are on the point of data overload. Taking the health and wellbeing industry as an example, we are tracking steps, calories and our sleep patterns obsessively in order to turn ourselves into fitter, healthier, better looking and longer living individuals. However, it’s hard for us to understand how all this data can become meaningful or grasp how it connects emotionally.
We’re on a quest, not for perfection but for optimisation – how can we become the best versions of ourselves, more effective and more efficient? We realise that there’s no end to the journey, no perfect self – but there is continual improvement.
But what does this mean for brands?
In order to tap into the Transformation Economy, brands need to deliver an emotional experience that will enhance the lives of their customers on the continuous journey to self-actualisation. It’s no longer enough to offer a product or service; brands must frame their offer within the idea of enhancement.
The evolution from the Experience to the Transformation Economy
Our identities still derive from lifestyle choices, specific brand affiliations and niche interests. As a result, consumers are seeking authenticity and engagement within the Experience Economy, where shared and memorable experiences are valued over possessions.
In order to become recognised players within the Experience Economy, brands need to deliver on all the Six Principles (Purpose; Personality; Place; People; Product; Process) we identified in our How to Engage piece. The foundation of a winning brand is its purpose and this is then communicated through all the brand’s channels.
In order to build deep connections, brands need a strong purpose, a ‘why’, that customers can identify with, something that genuinely aligns with their own beliefs. As we learned from Simon Sinek in his inspiring book Start with Why: ‘People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.’
Transformational brands push the Experience Economy one step further by forming a lasting, long-term relationship with the customer that goes beyond a single in-store experience. It’s essential that these brands create personal meaning for their audiences in order to maintain these relationships.
As the above graph demonstrates, in the future consumers will choose products and services not only according to how closely they match their likes and interests, but also how they will transform them (appearance, health and fitness), their lives (relationships, work life or wellbeing) or their ways of thinking (politically, socially, morally and self).
A company already mastering the Transformation Economy is our client Lululemon. The athleticwear brand doesn’t only sell high-quality products, but stands for a no-judgment, wellbeing movement.
Yes, Lululemon sells highly technical sportswear, but more importantly, it has a defined purpose which is communicated through all its channels from the tone of voice, to the attitude of staff and to the engaging retail environments. It helps its customers to not only look, but also feel better about themselves through initiatives like meditation and yoga classes, wellbeing festivals or visionary goal setting, supporting its fan base along their personal journey to self-actualisation.
“The Transformation Economy isn’t pitted against the Experience Economy – it is the natural evolution of it, born out of the increasing desire of the consumer to satisfy the highest tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: self-actualisation”.
– Claudia Roth – Managing Director, Soul Luxury
Nike is another brand that has evolved into a strong player within this shift. Recently it unveiled a new Nike+ app that offers access to a Nike store that’s personalised to each individual’s preferences (based on tracked as well as customer-fed data). The service includes one-on-one appointments with sales assistants, early bird access to the latest training clubs and product releases plus additional perks. The app holds the promise of transforming a user’s life with meaningful services and experiences.
Aside from the Six Principles, relevance and interaction are the prerequisites for transformational brands. The brand cannot adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach instead they need to be willing to adapt to specific consumer needs in order to form an intensely personal, soulful and ultimately lucrative relationship.
The transformation economy is the next frontier for brands and harnessing its power is about to become key to surviving in the ever shifting, highly competitive retail market.
Pine, J. and Gilmore, J. (1999) The Experience Economy, Harvard Business School Press
Sinek, S. (2009) Start with Why, Penguin books