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Transformation - the New Frontier

A fundamental reason Experience Economy spending is expected to hit $8 trillion by 2030 is people are in search of the next best part of themselves, with their wallets speaking for their beliefs. Enter the Transformation Economy.  


The wellness sector, a bellwether for the evolution of this new economy, is a barometer for people’s aspirations for personal transformation. Despite economic pressures and spending cuts, 80% of people globally plan to spend more on wellness and personal transformation in 2023. It's a sign of a society that’s evolved enough to not only meet people’s basic needs but allow room for people to grow into their higher selves. The result is a focus towards self-actualization and purpose.  


An example? Per YPulse’s recently published report ‘What Is Wellness?’, Gen Z has become critical of wellness culture because it’s over-focused on perfection. Instead, they believe their social lives are just as important as exercise and that there are no right or wrong approaches. All of this broadens the category, allowing for greater attributed spending as well.  

Experiences at the Center of Wellness

A Vice Media study of post-pandemic Gen Z attitudes found that experiences are at the heart of their definition of fun.

  • 88% believe that EXPLORATION is part of fun - travelling to an exciting destination, exploring a cool venue or being in a beautifully or thoughtfully designed environment 
  • 84% want IMMERSION to have fun - feeling the vibe / positive energy, experiencing something with all 7 senses, making something to take home 
  • 83% are all about PLAY - dancing, singing, laughing, imagining, co-creating 
  • 81% believe COMMUNITY is important - what makes an experience ‘fun’ is the opportunity to share moments with others 

For our emerging audiences, feeling and being “well” often means filling their lives with experiences of fun, transportation, immersion, and social sharing. Brands are expected to play an active role in delivering these experiences.  


In a global survey for Wunderman Thompson, almost twice as many people say they are likely to buy from brands that bring them a sense of joy (49%), or those that surprise and delight them (45%) than from brands that just do what they say they will (26%). Yet, few brands are tapping into this desire—70% of people say they can’t remember the last time a brand did anything that excited them. 


Which makes sense. It matches up to the way we marketers share out briefs to start work – whether written for an agency by a client, or by agencies internally for creative teams. We start with product benefits because they are considered primary differentiators, but so are values and emotional benefits that deliver unstated human needs. 


So, we ask: When is the last time any of us wrote a brief to unlock emotion, inspire authentic joy or a feeling of awe? When was the last time we thought about human meaning, social purpose or transformation?  

These are the questions that create breakthrough work and industry-leading awards.  


In the past two years, ideas that combined experience and purpose have won 8 out of 10 Cannes Titanium Lions awards. In fact, experience-first campaigns that offer purpose or personal transformation consistently deliver notoriety, culture love, and brand growth over non-experience marketing tactics.

Unlocking the shift

How do we begin to create more meaningful and transformative experiences? Through insights.  


At GMR, we look at the emotional need states of people, paying attention to what drives them to seek experiences. This method, which we call Experience EQ, is organized into four need states: Belonging, Release, Identity and Enrichment. If we see that people today are feeling stressed, worried, and low on hope, there’s an opportunity to provide them with joy and delight. Knowing people’s needs lets us chart a path to move them into a more meaningful space through memorable experiences that resonate and turn into ROI for brands.  


The hyperconnected digital world has increased the speed of cultural evolution, causing culture and trends to move much faster than corporate behaviors, leading marketers on a chase to catch up with consumer attitudes. The prediction is that this switch will flip quickly.  


Younger generations don’t just want products with useful design and function, they want their interactions and experiences with these products to signal empathy—to bend to their individual needs on their journey of self-actualization and personal growth. They want brands to be catalysts in their personal transformations and they want experiences to deliver them. Are you ready?