Meet the Transformational Consumer


How to Build and Market Products That Change People’s Lives


Lesson Info

Meet the Transformational Consumer

So transformational consumers are a massive and growing segment of people who look at all of life as a series of behavior change projects, and their whole goal for these projects is to get healthier, wealthier, and wiser. Not only are those values for them, they know, they're aware that their own ability to control and manage their own behavior is the biggest limiting factor on their ability to achieve their goals. So they know behavior change is the key, and they believe it's possible. Transformational consumers tend to be very optimistic about the prospects of change but they know it's hard, and because they know it's hard they're constantly out there looking for content, looking for products, looking for providers, looking for coaches who can help, who can help them make the behavior changes they wanna make. Because they're out there constantly looking and because they're pretty optimistic, they tend to experiment with things a lot. They'll try lots of new things. They are early ado...

pters is the way we would say that in sort of corporate marketing speaking. But they're just, they're willing to experiment. They try lots of things. They try lots of things across all of these categories. In fact, people who are transformational consumers tend to have kind of a personal brand in their circle as that kinda person, who's always trying new things, always has a goal, always studying for a certification, or starting a side business. People around them just know them like that right? I'm seeing some knowing looks (laughs) and nods in the audience. Because of that, they tend to be highly influential on the people in their circle, right? So it's a funny thing, and I've seen this up close with some transformational consumers and their friends and loved ones in my life recently, where the transformational consumers kinda good. They're out there. They may not know exactly what they're doing, but they're trying to do stuff. They're just trying stuff right. And the people around them are like, man that's exhausting. Shouldn't you just like, be content, until they need a recommendation. And then they're like, oh I know you'll know (laughs) right? So transformational consumers tend to be highly influential on the buying behavior of the people around them, because people seek them out for advice on, you know when they have goal or wanna make change, they know that's the person to ask, 'cause they've experimented with a lot of things. I like to joke that if you've been both vegan and paleo at different times in your life, you might be a transformational consumer. (laughs) (audience laughs) Okay, guilty (laughs) guilty. And it's not just about health though. Entrepreneurs, or people who want to be entrepreneurs, they do tend to be transformational consumers. People who take online courses (laughs) tend to be transformational consumers. People who are always out trying to learn the thing and get better at something. 'Cause people who are on that constant quest for that, those tend to be transformational consumers. Now what's great for us who have businesses or brands and want to engage people with them is that transformational consumers fall in love with brands at a level that's directly proportional to the change that the brand helps them make. So the more you help them make a change that they wanna make, the more effective, the more ease you inject, the more beauty or joy even you inject into their journey of transformation, the more they will fall in love with your brand. And by fall in love I mean use, refer, click on, spend time on site, all those metrics we talked about before. Part of the reason I put this true eye chart of brands up, is that I wanna demonstrate that a lot of what we do when we're working on the transformational consumer frameworks, is shift into the mindset that our customers have. Get out of thinking about businesses the way that we've been thinking about them, start thinking about them the way that our customers think about them. And the way customers think about the effort to be healthier, wealthier, wiser, is broadly, broadly, you do not have to be a health or finance business per se, to use these frameworks and engage with people around the transformations they wanna make in their life. Right, health means stress management and athletic apparel and health is food. And health is anything that they put in or on or around their bodies, right? Wealth sure means personal finance, but it also means insurance. It may also mean getting a side hustle as a Lyft driver. There are many other things, other industries that can fall within and use these frameworks. Wise. Wise doesn't just include education. It can include anything that people do to get closer to self-actualization, or to be a better citizen of the world, right. So wise can include coaches, therapists. It can include their practice of faith. Charitable donations fall under wise. Even things like learning hobbies. Right, like yoga, mediation, or like woodworking. Whatever the hobby is that you wanna do to be a more well rounded person. And I also saw some knowing looks on that, which I really hope means that someone in this audience has taken a woodworking class, 'cause that's just awesome. (audience laughs) Just because. I don't woodwork, I just think it's awesome that people do. Travel, all of those things fall within wise. The other thing I want this to illustrate is that some of these things overlap, right? There are many things like yoga and meditation, coaching and therapy, that would be considered both healthy and wise. And again, the frameworks do also apply to business to business, industries and products, because those people are just people too. So if you're selling something to... Salesforce for example, sells to businesses, but every person in those businesses wants to be more efficient at doing their job and would probably like to make more money, right? So it's still these healthy, wealthy, wise motivations that people have for picking the products they pick. All that's required for something to be a transformational purchase, or for someone on to be a transformational consumer is that the person engages at least several times a week with products and content in an effort to further their healthy, wealthy, and wise goals. So I put this slide up, I did a study for the book. We did a study of 2,000 U.S. consumers, and fully 50% of them identify as transformational consumers. We'll talk through the data a little bit more. They spend about four trillion dollars U.S. a year just on their transformational goals. And that is, I think, extremely conservative, 'cause there are many things that I can't, we were not willing to say that every purchase in that space is driven by healthy, wealthy, or wise goal, but many we know are. And that roughly tracks to to about 25% of U.S. consumers spending that's just people trying to further their healthy, wealthy, or wise goal. It's not a niche. It's sort of the upshot of this slide. It's not a niche. I wanna walk through the defining characteristics of transformational consumers. I may ask you along the way to let me know what resonates with you and how you see yourself in your own consumer behavior. So we have an acronym that is human. So the data shows that transformational consumers are human. The H stands for healthier. Transformational consumers focus on what I like to call joyful prosperity. Their goals tend fall under the auspices of healthier, wealthier, and wiser. The U is that this is ongoing, it's unending. They see life as a constant cadence of campaigns to change their own behavior. That's why we call those personal disruption campaigns. You've heard of industry disruptions. A personal disruption is just you trying to change your own behavior. And that never really ends for transformational consumers. In fact, from a spiritual perspective we would say it does, but only when you emerge after nonphysical after death. (laughs) The M is for mindset. So transformational consumers have an extreme growth mindset. And we'll talk about what that means in just a minute. The A's all about action. They just have a bias toward doing stuff versus not. And the N is about the search being, it's a never ending search. So this is about a never ending series of campaigns, series of goals. This is a about a never ending search for products and content that can help them achieve their goals. They're always looking for 'em. All right, so let's do the H with this delightful young, hipster gentleman pictured. Transformational consumers were two to four times as likely as non-transformational consumers to be working on a given goal to be healthier, wealthier, or wiser. The goals kind of breakdown into several categories. They tend to either be goals to fix something that's not working, like I wanna lose weight, I wanna get outta debt, I wanna get outta pain, physical pain. I wanna get outta emotional pain. I'd really like to quit my day job or as I would encourage them to reframe it, I'd really like to fire my terrible boss. (laughs) Fixing what's not working, maintaining a baseline. So just like keep my house clean with healthy things, feeding myself and my family and my dogs with healthy things. Saving and investing as a routine. Home improvement as a routine. Keeping up my worship or meditation or yoga or hobbies and personal growth practices. Maintaining a baseline, is a second kind of big category of goals that they have. And then there's like optimizing. There definitely are some transformational consumers goals that fall into the like I want to have extraordinary performance in some area of my life. I want to write a book. I want to live my best life, right? I want to start a business or have a dream job or I wanna be super fit or I wanna travel the world or I wanna live to 'til I'm like, okay, I may or may not have said, I'm gonna live until I'm 250 (laughs) before. I wanna feel this, I say all the time too, I wanna feel better as I get older. Things that are sort of counterintuitive and out there, it's not uncommon for a transformational consumers to say they have something like that as goal. How many of the people in this room are currently working on a goal to get healthier? Basically everyone. Laura didn't raise her hand. See, I know that. (audience laughs) The only reason I called Laura out, is 'cause I actually know that about her. (laughs) (audience laughs) Does anyone wanna share what a goal is? So one of my personal goals relating to being healthier is exercising more. I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, so I was thinking, how did I get that? So one of the goals is to exercise more to get my blood pressure down and that's what I've been doing. Yeah, that's like actually kind of two of them. Yeah. Does anyone have a wealth or career related goal in the room? You don't have to share 'em now, I'm just taking a poll. Who has a health or career related goal in the room. Yeah, me too. (laughs) Anyone currently working on or toward, consistently or inconsistently, we don't judge here, working toward a goal that we would call wiser? Like learning a new skill or studying a thing, trying to get better, yeah. So, I don't know if you all could see that online, but everyone raised their hand for every one. Let's go to the U. I told you guys my hypothesis up front, that everyone in this room would be a transformational consumer, but yeah. So the U stands for unending series of personal disruption campaigns. So a transformational consumer said, I set goals all the time. Now, for those of you in the room, for me, that's like, yeah, (laughs) because obviously. Not for everyone though. Only 41% of non-transformational consumers agreed with that. There are many people who don't set goals all the time, which is not nescessarily intuitive to people who do naturally. And again, the goals can be around... Often the goals are around, like I wanna stop a behavior, I want to start a behavior, or I wanna accomplish a finite project. Like I wanna get a license or learn a language. Sometimes the goals are around, like, I wanna just keep doing this one beneficial thing that I'm doing, but for the most part, they tend to be I wanna stop a behavior, start a behavior, or accomplish a finite project. I love this one, because I think it just shows that this is a real segment, this is not everyone. And every time we see something that's, where there's a real differentiation, there's value in that, because then you can understand how to like reach these people in a way you're not nescessarily going to be reaching those people. Right, so I think it's important to reach my full potential before I die. 82% of transformational consumers said that only about half of non-transformational consumers said that. All right, transformational consumers have an extreme growth mindset. So there's a researcher out of Stanford named Carol Dweck and she has written extensively, her whole career has been about surfacing that there are actually two different sorts of mindsets that people have when it comes to like, personal growth and development and skill building and their ability to change their life. Fixed mindset people sort of feel like they're playing the hand they were dealt by life. Right, like, this is how I was born (laughs) this is what I can do with that. Growth mindset people are kinda like, eh, I can pretty much change anything. (laughs) If I work or if I'm diligent, I might not be perfect at stuff, but I can really like change some things. I think of transformational consumers as extreme growth mindset people. 81% of them flat out said yes, to I can change anything about my life that I want to, which only half of non-transformational consumers said. The other thing I think is important is almost 90% of transformational consumers said they are aware of the one thing that they have to do to be able to change anything, and it's manage their own behavior. They're very aware. All right, the A is for action. So transformational consumers tend to possess either an innate or learned bias toward action. They prefer, when they're not happy with something in their lives, they prefer to be trying to do something (laughs) to fix it. To be clear, they may not be doing the right thing. (audience laughs) All right, like they can be floundering. Because also, that's just how life works. That's how you get clear on what you're supposed to do, is sometimes you do the thing that doesn't work and you get clarity on it that way right? But you're trying something. They're doing something. Sometimes too much. (laughs) So they may be floundering. They do still get stuck. In fact, we have a surprising result that transformational consumers actually said that they were more, more transformational consumers said that they get intimidated by challenges than non-transformational consumers, which I thought was fascinating. But I think some of that is because transformational consumers have thought about it and they're taking 'em on. Right, if you're not really trying them then they're not that intimidating. That is why, in fact the fact that they are intimidated, may have something to do with why transformational consumers are so likely to be searching for tools, be searching for content, be searching for products. They're looking for help and that creates really rich opportunities to engage them as a business and marketer. All right, and this search for behavior-changing products and content and help and services is never ending. Again, 50% of U.S. adults in this survey said, they use products or content at least several times a week to achieve their healthy, wealthy, or wise goals. And you know it's just broad, it's products, it's coaching and training they're looking for. They're looking for collaboration and inspiration and illumination. They're looking for more ease and more joy, more beauty in the process of their transformation. They're looking for from tools, from apps, from products, from events, from content. So that's who the transformational consumer is. I do feel that I would be beating, belaboring a point if I asked (laughs) if you all feel that you qualify. Now I want to talk a little bit about the transformation path or journey of your transformational consumer. And the reason I think it's important that we start thinking about this in this way, is that I have this really strong opinion that marketing only actually works for products that create change. There's an email that we're gonna talk about a little bit later in the course that Stewart Butterfield, the CEO of Slack sent out the day before they launched or the day they launched or something where he talked about the need to do marketing from both ends, which meant that, it's our job as the people who create and sell products, both to deeply understand the problem of the people we serve and the journey they're trying to take, to make sure that we're creating a product that creates change for them, that gets them further down their path and then to just translate the way we talk about our product into the language of their pre-existing mental frames, so that they can know that our product is important to them. We're not out here trying to convince people to think about things the way we think about them. We should be translating our products into the way they are already thinking about their problem. So in that way, marketing really should not be used to snap on top of a product that doesn't actually create change for people, which seems basic, but happens all the time. Happens all the time. So in order to understand how to even build or create a product that truly creates transformation you have to understand a little bit about behavior change and transformation. In the book I talk about this a little bit more. But I also send you to a bunch of other references. As I joked about earlier, changing behavior seems really, really difficult. It seems like a huge thing to take on, but the truth is that there are many fields of study that have already taken this on and have approaches to this that you can build into your content, you can build into your product. I have a Master's degree in psychology and have training as a coach and I got those things and used them as a marketer, not to use them as a psychologist, right? So it does help to know a little bit about behavior change. One of the models that I think is the most elegant is called Fogg's Behavior Model. B.J. Fogg is a professor at Stanford. He has a site called that is very, very helpful. Many of the digital products that are created to help change behavior, help people get more fit, help people save and invest more, many of those products are built on this model. And the model's pretty elegant. B is behavior change. It takes motivation, ability, and a trigger. So to create a behavior change a person's gotta be motivated, they've gotta be able to do the thing, and a trigger has to exist. Let me say this the way he might. Motivation is really hard to create externally. It's so hard that you shouldn't try. Part of what I'm doing with the transformational consumer framework is helping you find the people, all the people that are out there already motivated and trying to make the changes that you want to help them make. And what I say in my other business is life experience motivates people, you don't motivate people. So find the motivated people already. Then what you can do with your product or your service is make it way easier for them to do the thing that they're already trying to do. And easy includes more joyful, more beautiful, more fun. Any of those things. Also cheaper. Anything you do to make it easier. Or, and or, you can do what he calls putting a hot trigger in the path. And a trigger is just anything that tells people that they need to do something now. So a trigger can be a notification on your phone. A trigger can be an alarm. It can be a cue, it can be a prompt. That's a trigger. So that's actually the easiest way to create behavior change is to find people already on the path and just put a hot trigger in their path. And you can do this, what I love about this model, is it can apply equally to products and to marketing. Right, you can actually use marketing on its own to put triggers in people's path. So he actually breaks, has a model for breaking products up by the way in which they make things easier for people or put a trigger in their path and I included that so you could see I sort of have these brands that are very transformational bucketed by what they do. The transformational consumer love brands in a way that's directly proportional to how much ease, joy, beauty, confidence they inject along the transformational path, the brand injects along their transformational path. How much easier do you make their journey.

Class Description

Who are transformational consumers? They are the 50 percent of customers who view life as a never-ending series of behavior change projects. They’re constantly looking for products and services to help them get healthier, wealthier and wiser.

Why should you care about transformational consumers? Because these people spend more than $4 trillion a year in their quest for betterment. Not only that, they’re ready and willing to embark on a wild love affair with your brand.

Tara-Nicholle Nelson, author of “The Transformational Consumer,” will share actionable strategies, marketing insights and product advice to help you better understand the human journey of the most valuable, least understood customers of our time.

In this class, you’ll learn how to:

  • Identify who transformational consumers are, including their defining characteristics, how they feel and what motivates their actions.
  • Make a business case for serving transformational consumers.
  • View customers through the lens of transformation rather than demographics, big data and product feedback.
  • Figure out which digital features, products and content will reach and engage these consumers.
  • Overcome challenges such as poor revenue growth, marketplace threats, underperforming content and customer disengagement by focusing more on transformational consumers.