What is the strategic commonality among the examples of mass infatuations and resulting brand extensions that I have shared over the previous weeks? What do all these companies share?
I can answer this question in two words: lifestyle enrichment. These companies all understand that they are not in the business of making a certain product or providing a certain service, but rather they offer something much more encompassing, much more fundamental: they are in the business of enriching people’s lives. They are in the business of making people’s lives more fun, more thrilling, simpler, more comfortable, more liberating, safer, more meaningful, more efficient and more harmonious. This seemingly small shift in strategic thinking is huge. It allows companies to infatuate large groups of consumers and to do so continuously.
But take care not to be limited in looking to your current consumers as the source of new lifestyle-enriching ideas. When consulted, most consumers respond based on what they already have rather than expressing desires for things that don’t yet exist. Instead, you need to observe how both consumers and nonconsumers live, work, and play and anticipate their latent needs and desires. As Steve Jobs put it: “It’s hard for users to tell you what they want when they’ve never seen anything remotely like it.” Or consider Denys Lasdun, a leading twentieth-century English architect, who observed that the architect’s job is to give a client “not what he wants but what he never dreamed that he wanted; and when he gets it, he recognizes it as something he wanted all the time.”
For more on the topic of Lifestyle Enrichment dive right into my book, Slingshot: Re-Imagine Your Business, Re-Imagine Your Life and companion website.