According to research, 72% of young consumers prefer to spend money on experiences rather than possessions. When that experience is in some way transformative – i.e. resulting in the improvement of physical or emotional well-being – it becomes all the more desirable.

This is the idea behind the ‘transformation economy’, where brands sell the promise of personal achievement over and above material possessions. 

So, what brands are taking this approach? Here are just a few examples. 

Nike

While Nike’s branding has always evoked notions of self improvement and positivity, this has been in more of an inspirational sense rather than in terms of the actual product offering. Of course, sports gear can be a key tool when it comes to physical transformation, but examples like the Nike+ app offer a much more tangible way of achieving it.

Through the Nike+ app users can join local running clubs, track and monitor progress, and even set goals based on personal ability. By offering data in return, customers are essentially able to use the Nike brand to help make getting and keeping fit a much richer personal experience.

Selfridges

According to the 2014 Boston Consulting Group report, of the $1.8trn spent on ‘luxuries’ in 2013, nearly 55% was spent on luxury experiences. More often than not, these experiences tend to be rooted in a quest for health or wellness – which is also the idea behind retail initiatives like Selfridges’ Body Studio.

Located in the London Oxford Street store, the space includes a clean-eating café and a hair studio. It also holds regular fitness events and motivational talks.

You could argue that the Body Studio is more of a marketing exercise, simply a selection of products packaged up and sold under the umbrella of ‘wellness’. After all, shoppers aren’t going to feel all that different after a visit. Having said that, I think it still demonstrates how brands and retailers are using the power of transformation and related experiences to drive the sales of products.

District Vision

While District Vision is largely an ecommerce brand – selling eyewear for runners – it also sees its events and experiences as part of its product offering.

The company, which began in New York, is based on the idea that ‘mental wellbeing is the foundation of every form of physical exercise’. As a result, it also offers a meditation and running program that helps runners to – you guessed it – run and meditate at the same time.  

So, as both a wellness company and an ecommerce business, District Vision is one of the first real examples of a brand set up to be transformative - rather than as a by-product of a marketing strategy. By using its values as the very basis of its product research and development – as well as the paid-for events it offers on top – it is able to offer consumers a way to better themselves both physically and mentally.

It’s a tall order, of course, but it’s certainly a bit more enticing than just paying for a designer logo.

Headspace

Headspace, the mindfulness app, proves that meditation can be the basis of a viable business model. In fact, it has used a subscription-based service – which offers unlimited access to sessions for £7.96 a month – to generate a reported annual revenue of over $50m.

Naturally, this would not be possible if there was not the demand from consumers. And with the increase in technology and social media, issues relating to anxiety, mental health, self-esteem, and exhaustion are also on the up.

While the transformative aspect of Headspace is clear – with the aim of reducing the stresses and strains of everyday life – it could also be seen as revolutionary in a wider sense. By helping to bring awareness to mental health issues, it has also helped to change common perceptions, while making meditation a widely accepted part of modern life. 

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Nikki Gilliland

Published 18 May, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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