Retail Executive

JAN-FEB 2018

Retail Executive is the trusted advisor to top retail executives from the industry’s most profitable retailers. We help retail executives succeed in their job role and grow their business via exclusive, actionable, peer-driven content.

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INSIDE THE SELF-ACTUALIZATION ECONOMY We're also seeing the self-actualization economy man- ifest at the industry level. Take the proliferation of life coaching, the second-fastest-growing profession in the world rivaled only by information technology 1 . A coach and friend of mine recently made the comment that she didn't know how to describe her work. My response was that she helps people be their best selves. Likewise, both a growing health and wellness and experience economy are rooted in self-actualization — a yearning to be one's healthiest and most experienced self. Diving into growth by sector will also unveil higher growth in self-actualiza- tion driven sectors such as healthcare and travel. Clients often ask how to think about the self-actu- alization economy and their business/brand. I coach them to begin with two questions: 1) what aspect of self will your customers and potential customers trust you with? Is it mind? Body? Intellect? Creativity? The list is vast. And, 2) how can you elevate [x] aspect of self? Combined, these questions can springboard thinking to unexplored opportunities and unmet "jobs to be done," some perhaps far from your current offerings and from a traditional and conditioned interpretation of "retail." Questions that often follow are, how does this trend apply regionally? How does it reconcile with other pres- ent-day psychology frameworks? How does it differ be- tween business to consumer and business to business brands? How do I create a full strategy anchored around betterment and self-actualization? All good questions with meaty answers beyond the space provided here. That all said, what is the future of retail? Will there be bots, AI, personalization, brandship, etc.? Yes. But at the core, there will still be a consumer, one driven by funda- mental human motivations and needs. As a collective of brands, the more we can unveil those motivations and partner with consumers to fulfill those needs, the more we can be a force for activating positive change. R If we think back to the beginning of humankind, most of our time, energy, and resources as a global society have been spent on the lower part of the pyramid — ful- filling needs such as a roof over our head, drinking wa- ter, food to sustain us, etc. The past 10 years, enabled by the digital age and societal progression, have graduated us into fulfilling our social needs — love, belonging, and esteem — and have been a subsequent breeding ground for behemoths such as Facebook, WeChat, Instagram, Twitter, online dating apps, etc. Today, we're seeing more and more people reaching for self-actualization. That is, the quest for growth, purpose, and fulfillment. So, if we think of space on the pyramid above as denot- ing time, energy, and resources, we're seeing an inver- sion (see illustration 2). Whereas in the past, most of our time, energy, and dollars were spent on the lower half of the pyramid, today most of our time, energy, and dollars are spent on the upper half, including self-actualization. Now, are people still very much in the social age? Yes. I'd make the distinction that progression up the pyramid is not linear. Moreover, at any given time, the events of one's life and the context surrounding it can result in digression back down the pyramid, a notion that's been captured in future iterations of Maslow's work. That said, what we are seeing, particularly amongst the aspirational millennials, is a growing population attempting to self-actualize. So, wherein lies the opportunity for brands in this emerging self-actualization economy? Some brands, whether they know it or not, are already leveraging this trend. For example, Headspace enables people to be their most mindful selves, Uber enables people to be their most entrepreneurial selves, and ETSY enables people to be their most creative selves. Last year, con- sumer electronics brand Dyson opened the Dyson Insti- tute of Technology, branching into a service sector and enabling people to be their most educated selves. Other examples include Lululemon's focus on elevating peo- ple to live their best lives through the power of practice, LVMH branching into the service/experience sector vis a vis Clos 19, offering curated luxury experiences that elevate their customers beyond providing goods. All are examples of brands helping people better themselves on some level. 1 Forbes, May 2016 Illustration 2 Self- Actualization Esteem Love & Belonging Safety Physiological Needs Physiological Needs Safety Love & Belonging Esteem Self-Actualization Least amount of time, energy, and resources Most amount of time, energy, and resources RETAILEXECUTIVE.COM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 33

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