Image Credit: Rogue Wave

We have moved from a product-based economy to one based on services, to one driven by experiences in rapid succession. Several factors are coalescing to create a new transformational economy propelled by personal change, creation, and optimization. The convergence of factors is similar to the explosive individual, and societal changes parallel those of the Renaissance.

Coming out of the Black Death, people felt empowered to question rules and authority. The Reformation, global exploration, advances in the arts and sciences, and the rise of a merchant middle class all stemmed from a growing societal belief that those in power did not have all the answers and could not be relied on for protection, sustenance, or any authentic support. 

Like what occurred in the Renaissance, individuals will, as Navy Seal Jacko Willink says, “take extreme ownership of their lives.”   This new perspective will be one of several triggers that will propel the Hero’s Journey Economy (HJE). People will take greater ownership of their lives, challenge societal wisdom, and dig deep inside themselves for personal enhancement, creation, and change.

In this HJE, large and well-established companies will fall by the wayside as consumer spending, two-thirds of national economic activity, radically shifts course. To succeed, companies will need to reposition their brands to meet this new emerging market.

  • The individual will be the product, and marketers will need to be comfortable having their brands play the role of sidekick in the quest.  Aspirational purchases symbolizing success will decline and be replaced by brands that are supportive tools in the quest.  
  • Firms will innovate and introduce new products and services to fill a market need or gap in the personal transformation trek.
  • Companies will understand that their product and service will be one of several companions in the journey and build alliances with other change-oriented offerings to create a change support system. 
  • Businesses will step out of their comfort zone to enable journey-driven offerings, often in areas different from their branded legacy.

Some of these pioneering brands have already separated themselves from the competition and are successful in this new emerging marketplace:

Nike – Leveraging metadata from their running app, Nike discovered large numbers of night runners, many of them women.  They created apparel specifically for night running and offered safety tips within the app. 

Apple – Already a global brand providing reliable and intuitive technology tools, they are now partnering with insurance companies, medical institutions, and even the country of Singapore to build health and transformational support systems for iWatch wearers.  Apple, from its start, has embraced the role as an instrument for change and is a theme of its latest Mac campaign.

Notion – Personal Creation is at the heart of this new economy, where one to two-person businesses will be the norm.   Notion is an intuitive collaboration and project management software that is customizable, scalable, and enjoyable to use for any project.  The initial version is free, and there are templates available for almost any journey.

Lululemon – This company recognized the importance of fashionable activewear well ahead of the competition and is now expanding into makeup and active menswear.  Lululemon lives the Hero’s Journey by encouraging employees to form 10-year personal goals and create vision boards in the backrooms to share and inspire others.

Peloton – Not just a home exercise machine, Peloton has combined a technology-driven bike with social recognition and friendly competition to create an almost cult-like following across a broad range of fitness levels.

Remo Conference Software – In a post-COVID world, traveling to a seminar to network over rubber chicken dinners may be a thing of the past.  Remo offers users a heightened virtual experience with a genuine conference attendance feel.

Spotify – In the Hero’s Journey, mentors play a critical role, but the Obi-Wan Kenobi or Mr. Miyagi are challenging to find in today’s world. Today’s mentors reside in the digital world of Podcasts, and they will be the soundtrack of this new economy. Spotify is building a portfolio of shows with breakthrough thinkers that speak to the Hero’s Journey. Hosts like Rogan, Ferris, Tippett, Altucher, Simon and Harris (both Sam and Dan) give a voice to Mentors in the journey like Wim Hoff, Michael Osterholm,  Hugh Howey, Jana, and Sebene Salassie. If these names do not sound familiar, they soon will be.  Move over Kim and Kanye. Mentors for transformation will be the new celebrities of the HJE.

Khan Academy / Master Class – Finding and studying with a subject matter expert and Guru within a specific field can now be done from the living room couch.   Knowledge transfer to pivot to a new career or starting a side gig in a new or unfamiliar domain is affordable to the masses. With Khan Academy, the knowledge base is broad and deep, and the cost is zero.

Athletic Brewing – This brewer is leading the pack and igniting the non-alcohol beer segment.   Athletic is marketing to active and high-performing consumers that want a beer but are not looking to be slowed down or buzzed. Other prominent players are getting into the segment. Still, Athletic separates itself from the competitors with high-quality craft beers that taste as good or better than the real thing.     

Pokémon – Pokémon Go leveraged Augmented Reality to create a breakthrough experiential game for all ages.  They are now launching a new app focused on a critical area in personal optimization, getting adequate sleep.  

NOOM – Developing new daily habits like eating right or meditation can be difficult and tedious, but they are essential to fundamental transformation.  Coaching apps like Noom monitor routines and leverage user metadata to hack the change process and nurture behavior shifts.   

TB12 – In addition to going from the 199th in the NFL draft to winning more Super bowls than any other quarterback, Tom Brady is challenging the conventional wisdom on a professional athlete’s retirement age. Brady and his business partner Alex Guerrero offer exercise, food, and supplements that augment and optimize human performance.

Virtuix – The VR world will be the testing ground of the near future.  Everything from martial arts to advanced commando training can be learned in the virtual world. The Virtuix Omni enables players to explore endless VR worlds, moving freely and at full speed in 360° without hitting any walls. Movements that would otherwise require unintuitive button presses are now the result of natural motion. Backed by Mark Cuban and other prominent investors, the Omni is the first omnidirectional treadmill that lets players walk and run inside video games and other virtual worlds.

Companies are rushing into this HJE marketplace because they realize that there are unique benefits for playing mentor, sidekick, coach, or assistant.  Journey takers will lean heavily on these tools for support, guidance, and encouragement.  Once a journey taker makes it through a quest, the traveler and devices that helped her in the process have an unprecedented relationship. The result is a tremendously vocal and loyal customer base. These consumers are high-performing role models and walking endorsements for the products, services, and experiences they utilize to improve themselves and the world around them. 

As much as the HJE will be consumer market-driven, personal transformation will be an individual and profoundly intimate process.  All the motivational talks, supplements, and life hacks do not change the fact that individuals alone will own their journey. At the heart of these transformational quests will be a reflective, mental and spiritual voyage. Gadgets and tools will play a significant role in these change journeys, but they will take a back seat to the time, effort, and energy to make the mental shifts in perspective required for real change.