A growing economy fueled by a culture of self-improvement is drastically changing the relationship between people and brands. Coined the Consciousness Economy™ this shift represents a rapidly growing movement that is transforming consumer preference both locally and globally. This consumer behavior is demonstrated in the purchases made, the food consumed, the wellness activities pursued and the content embraced. Yet a surprisingly small number of brands can correctly pinpoint its primary driver: Consciousness.
A white paper we recently published at JLJ Marketing, details how a growing number of companies are shifting to the attitude ‘what’s good for the world is what’s right for the company’ and how they are being rewarded for it through a boost in brand loyalty, evangelism and profits. Consumers expect brands to play a leadership role in facilitating behavior that’s important to them and they are showing marked preference for the products and services that align with these values.
Smart brands are leading a global revolution.
Consciousness plays an increasingly powerful role in the value attributed to a brand, and a large swath of consumers value a positive experience and mindfulness above commoditized products with a lower price point. This is evidenced through the recent acquisition activity around conscious companies Seventh Generation and The Honest Company. Even major companies like Unilever and its CEO Paul Polman are taking an active leadership role in the economic, environmental, and ethical policies that directly shape the future of our world. The new expectation is for brands to connect to the part of consumers that want to the right thing, or enable the right thing. In short, brands should inherently do good.
Why are we taking notice now?
During these times of social and environmental instability, consciousness has become both an economic stimulus and a catalyst for change. When a society pushes the boundaries of its stability, the social and economic systems are responsive to even the smallest fluctuations in the consciousness of the people. That’s what’s happening right now, in this moment.
It’s more innate than you think.
Arguably, there has been a significant shift toward the consumption of products, services, and content that deliver greater well-being to the individual and the world. Consumers demand organic foods and live clean, prefer socially conscious, cruelty-free products, practice yoga, meditate, and loudly denounce those that body-shame and bully.
More than a fad, trend, or movement, the Consciousness Economy is a paradigm shift that can be identified across geographies, demographics, psychographics, socio-economic groups, and throughout generations. It is championed by a swelling consumer base that embraces technological connectivity and access to information, while at the same time strives to disconnect. They carve out time to be productive by turning off, unplugging, and embarking on a digital detox.
Consciousness as a catalyst for growth.
Technology and a shrinking globe have brought many injustices into the purview, creating global citizenship and a heightened awareness around the power of the collective. In her book, WE-Commerce, Billee Howard, identifies an age centered on the power of “we” instead of “me,” where consumers focus on the needs of the many over those of the few to drive disruption and business growth.
This new world order is inherent to what the Consciousness Economy is about. It is an era of socially evolved companies that will introduce products, services, and content that either honor or actively raise consciousness, and perhaps foster true social change through their platform, mission, or simply to uproot an imbalanced status quo. Think S’Well, Tom’s Shoes, Kind Snacks, Warby Parker, etc.
Don’t confuse the Consciousness Economy as marauding “do-gooders” who want to make the world better at the cost of business or profits. In fact, it’s just the opposite. That’s why we see Adidas launching a shoe made from ocean waste and why Mondelez is making aggressive moves to become the well-being snack leader by 2020. Not because large corporations don’t also have a heart, but the decisions they make must lead to a hefty profit and satisfy shareholders. And, it just so turns out that consciously driven products drive profit in spades.
Wellness, yoga & mediation go mainstream.
While consciousness is transforming many industries, one of the most prominent is healthcare and wellness. In 2013 consumer healthcare was a $502 billion market, which is predicted to rise to $737 billion by 2018 according to Accenture consumer health research. This growth is driven by increasing demand from health conscious consumers who care about preventive health with an emphasis on wellness, nutrition, weight management, vitamins and healthy beverages.
Consciousness drives choice in the activities we pursue as the products we buy. Yoga and meditation have gone mainstream in brick and mortar and online, and through the more than 40,000 health and wellness apps available. Even Oprah champions wellness through a meditation series featuring Deepak Chopra.
It’s bigger than purpose that drives profit.
While key to the Consciousness Economy is purpose driven profit, the potential and possibility is only beginning to be realized. Central to this economy is an educated, empowered consumer, like you, who is troubled by the harm that we’ve been doing to ourselves and to the world around us. They’ve come to realize that they have the opportunity to set the direction for the future of society through co-creating the world around them.
We believe the potential for this economy is fast-changing and immense, and revolutionizes established roles and existing intersections among brands, consumers, and government.
How to participate.
With the amount of information available, it’s up to consumers to hold brands to value-based standards. If you want to up your game in conscious consumption, the B Corp website is a good place to find products and services across a long list of industries that maintain certain standards in the way they conduct business, and how they contribute to the betterment of the world. To qualify to be a B Corp, brands must pass a rigorous social and environmental standards screening.
Brands that want to align should look within.
To align in this economy requires a desire to align to a consciously driven strategy. It isn’t a box to check, or check to write. Immediate steps can be small, perhaps as straight forward as revising messaging. Further efforts can include product strategy, packaging redesign, and revisiting choices in manufacturing, distribution and development to ensure these efforts also align with your core values. What matters most is the genuine desire to connect to your consumer in an authentic manner.
Ultimately, to participate in the Consciousness Economy companies will need to join consumers where they already are physically and digitally, as well as emotionally and on a somewhat spiritual or soulful level.
To learn more about the Consciousness Economy, download our white paper.
Originally published at medium.com