As we move from an Experience Economy to a Hero’s Journey Economy, the current barriers to reaching consumers will fall and give way to new market systems that will likely be closed off to many of the large traditional industry incumbents. No longer will legacy investments in large-scale manufacturing, national advertising, and heavy promotional spending guarantee market domination.

In this new Hero’s Journey Economy, (See: the consumer will be the product. The key to sustained profitability will be in developing and collaborating on new go-to-market systems that offer extensive personalization and utilize big data, Artificial Intelligence, and IoT Technology. 

These new go-to-market models will be viral and sticky because these systems will make life easier for consumers. To demonstrate these coming new market systems, let’s look at how lunch will change in the near future.

Joe McCabe, a construction worker in Akron, is welding an I-beam on the 48th floor of a skyscraper when the lunch whistle blows and Joe and his colleagues take the elevator down to the ground floor for food and some well-deserved rest.   His friends disperse to the many food trucks that show up at the large construction site for lunch. Joe checks his smartwatch. His lunch is 30 seconds out and will arrive in the designated drone delivery area. 

Joe is curious what the drone has delivered because he did not order it from a menu. His lunch was ordered by an Artificial Intelligent agent that has full access to Joe’s medical history, his latest check-ups and a dozen bio readings from Joe’s smartwatch that has continually been feeding information to the A.I. agent throughout the morning. Joe has also entered in his food preferences with detailed likes, dislikes, and allergies so the Agent can order a tailored meal for him.  

The raw ingredients for Joe’s lunch were delivered an hour ago to a nearby local restaurant which is part of a new food network made up of Sysco, Blue Apron, and several other food companies. The restaurant utilized a Sereneti automated cooking device that prepared the off –menu, personalized meal to perfection without requiring training or impacting the lunch capacity of the restaurant.


A drone drops off Joe’s lunch and then lifts off to deliver another lunch across town. 

Two years ago Joe wanted life insurance, but his physical exam results red flagged him to be in the early stages of type two diabetes, high blood pressure, and a Body Mass Index reading had him on the low end of obesity. The exam findings combined with Joe’s hazardous job in construction landed him in the high-risk area of the insurance actuary table. Joe could not come close to affording the monthly insurance premium, but Joe’s broker mentioned a new offering gaining popularity with hard to insure individuals. The idea was a hi-tech monitoring and support system that facilitated significant lifestyle changes which could dramatically bring down the cost of insurance.  

At first, the new lunch routine and other changes were dramatic, but over time Joe saw a difference in his energy levels, especially in the late afternoon when he would crash from a carb loaded-lunch. It was not long until Joe was down to his high school wrestling weight and a lower risk to the insurance company. Joe and his insurance agent were expanding the program to his other meals and to his entire family to reduce Joe’s health insurance costs. Joe’s insurance company was now profitability insuring millions of people that just a year ago were high risk and could not afford quality insurance.

In this new market model, Joe and his family win. The Insurance Company wins. The smartwatch manufacturer, the drone company, the local restaurant and its workers all win. Sysco, Blue Apron, and Sereneti also win. This new model is a great idea, unless you work for one of the food trucks at the construction site, are a food supplier to food trucks, or work for the soft drink company that supplied Joe’s soda that he drank all afternoon to keep alert on the job. 

If this vision of the future may sound strange or unlikely to come to fruition, the pieces are starting to come together. In August, Apple and Aetna Insurance announced they are in talks to supply Aetna’s 23 million subscribers with free or discounted Apple Watches. The first generation of fully automated meal delivery using self-driving cars is being tested by Domino’s in Grand Rapids Michigan

These new closed market systems will appear across the landscape offering lower costs, greater convenience, and automated value-added benefits to time-crunched consumers. Products, branded retail and restaurants will move from being a star to having a supporting role in the consumer’s quest for personal transformation.  Branded products or services not selected for these journies, either by automation or by an Artificial Intelligence agent, will be left out in the cold.

Some questions to consider for the coming Hero’s Journey Economy.

1)     These future systems will all be digitally driven. What is your digital strategy for engaging with consumers?

2)     What companies should you be collaborating with to create value-add systems for your consumer?

3)     What anxiety do consumers have about your product or service? What system or automation can be created to ease that anxiety?

4)     How can your digital/mobile apps be more transformational to your consumer?