C Space Inspiration Weekly: The Customer’s Journey is the New Product

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Can brands help lead the movement beyond “peak stuff?”

With the anthropological movement of things like “The Life-Changing” Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering” and expanding our creativity by limiting wardrobe options, there’s an obvious consumer need for doing more with less. As consumers seek happiness and become more educated around why experiences can provide more value to them than material goods, there’s a need for brands to think beyond commoditized products and services…

So, what exactly does this mean for brands that sell “stuff?”

  1. The need for innovation is fiercer than ever – only those that solve real consumer pain points and provide the best quality, at the best value will succeed. Brand names that have held iconic equity and loyalty will become irrelevant if they don’t deliver.
  2. Companies will need to think beyond “products” and “services” to understand the customers’ end-to-end journey and show how they can create experiences to make our lives easier and better.

Welcome to the Experience Economy, Harvard Business Review

How can the evolution of the birthday cake show that we are moving to an “experience economy?” This HBS article explains how we are outsourcing time and effort. By thinking about “experiences” as a distinct offering beyond “services” or “goods” – consumers can take part in what is called the progression of economic value. “From now on, leading-edge companies – whether they sell to consumers or businesses – will find that the next competitive battleground lies in staging experiences. Companies should think about what they would do differently if they charged admission.”

Have we Reached Peak Stuff?, Fast Company

Are we starting to see a world where growth and consumption aren’t always inexorably linked? The trajectory of modern civilization is essentially an exponential curve. Population, energy use, wealth, and a dozen other major indicators all follow a hockey stick of growth. After centuries of slow, mostly even growth, the curve appears to have gone vertical during the 20th century, doubling at an accelerating rate. Since 2001, material consumption has steadily fallen. How can brands help us transition to a sustainable economy?

Examples from both the physical and digital point-of-view:

H&M Sells Customers’ Old Clothes Back To Them As Recycled Denim, Consumerist

Retailers have had “recycle/coupon” programs for ages, but have they literally showed you the output of your good deeds? H&M, a brand typically known for trendy, low priced clothing is doing a great job at recovering from their blunder of destroying unsold clothing to discourage dumpster-divers, by showing that they are bigger than their product – they are part of your clothing life cycle. Through H&M’s line called, “Closing the Loop” – you can buy an item, recycle it with a discount to rebuy in another form.

Kitchensurfing: Are On-Demand Private Chefs the Next Wave of Meal Delivery?, Eater

Just when you thought Blue Apron was innovative in measuring out just the right amount of ingredients and making your meal-time prep easier, comes Kitchensurfing – a way to oursource your meal-time prep to an on-demand chef. We’re seeing time and effort outsourced through many different services, whether it be Handy, Uber, Caviar, Heal. Tiffany Bova, IoT – Women in Tech, says, “Companies need to realize that they no longer own the sales process, they are no longer ‘smarter’ than their customers. As the experience economy evolves, every business will become an information technology (IT) company.”

What is your company doing to understand your customer’s end-to-end experience?

And how are you innovating to a company that delivers information technology in the experience economy?


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