It’s All About You

By Alison Embrey Medina, Executive Editor

Any five-minute scan of television, radio or print media advertising these days will quickly alert your senses
to be a better version of yourself—a better parent, a better cook, a better dresser, a better coworker…even a better bed partner. But perhaps the change that has emerged recently is the social acceptance tag that comes along with it. Be yourself. You do you. We won’t judge. (Political commercials aside, of course.)

Within this era of beauty, fashion, fitness, health and wellness, we are seeing a pattern that focuses on the power of YOU. This spans across the generations—Baby Boomers are as in to comfortable, breathable fabrics and organic, skin-toning serums as their Millennial counterparts. Focusing on your own well-being, state of mind and happiness is no longer a sentiment of arrogance or self-indulgence; it’s just a sentiment of sound body and mind.

I recently saw Lindsay Angelo, a strategist with lululemon, speak at the Future Stores conference in Seattle. Her session focused not on the technologies driving retail today, but on the facets of today’s new consumer that directly align with the experiences lululemon tries to create within their stores. This includes the ideologies of mindfulness, fearlessness, empathy and creativity, all of which, Angelo pointed out, are widely raising the bar for innovation and allowing an experience economy to emerge.

But what was really fascinating to me is how these thoughts translate into emotion, brand relevance and customer connection. Angelo referenced Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (see illustration), a psychology theory that includes five motivational needs, beginning with basic needs (e.g. physiological, safety, love and esteem) and leading up to self-actualization. The theory contends that once one need is fulfilled, a person is motivated to fulfill the next one.

In Maslow’s Hierarchy, self-actualization includes realizing personal potential, self-fulfillment, seeking personal growth and peak experiences. Self-actualization, Angelo added, is where experience lives.
“The future of retail is self-actualization,” she said.

And you know what? She is absolutely right. When I speak about driving more “experiences” in bricks-and-mortar retail, I’m not talking about self-checkout robots, selfie stations, information kiosks or adding additional SKUs. I’m talking about curated moments, facets of thought, lifestyle awareness and self-actualization messages that make the store more than just a store—but a place to be of sound body and mind. Where you can do you.

Look at Maslow’s Hierarchy here and map it to your typical grocery market venture. If the store was only satiating your physiological needs, you would have grabbed your bread and milk and been on your merry way. But instead, you saw giant graphics of juicy peaches and imagined the taste of them and how’d they go perfect in that cobbler for your cookout. You watched the fishmonger gently filet the halibut, showing you his skillful technique. And the wine tasting sealed the deal—now you are joining the wine club and leaving with a fabulous rosé from Provence that makes you feel incredibly fancy and worldly. (By the way, all of this actually happened to yours truly on a recent shopping trip, even with two kids in tow.)

The experience speaks directly to YOU. These tiny moments add up to perception and expectation. Make them great moments. Do YOU.



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