Design for the Dream Economy - 20 August 2007
by Pat Jordan
Read this article in Chinese (translated by Christina Li)
After the eras of the Commodity Economy, the Manufacturing Economy, the Service Economy and the Information Economy, we have now entered the era of the Dream Economy.The key to success in the Dream Economy is an in-depth and holistic understanding of people. It’s not only about meeting people’s practical needs, but also about meeting their aspirations and providing a positive emotional experience.
1.1 Economic Eras
Early economic eras have been driven largely by the need to sustain life, provide good living conditions. More recent eras have also included leisure, entertainment and empowerment.
In the Dream Economy, consumers are increasingly looking for products and services which will meet their higher needs, enhance their self-image, and perhaps even help them move towards self-actualisation. People want great experiences and an enhanced self-image, they want to express their values and convictions through their purchase choices. The key to success is in understanding people. The better our understanding of consumers, the greater our ability to create products and services that they will find compelling. To connect with people we need to know what is important to them – their hopes, their fears, their dreams, their lifestyle, their aspirations (Jordan, 2002).
1.2 The Four Pleasures
The Four Pleasures is a framework that was developed by Canadian anthropologist Lionel Tiger (Tiger 1992). Tiger looked at societies all over the world and analysed the different types of positive or ‘pleasurable’ experiences that people can have.
He concluded that, for all people, there four broad categories of positive experiences that we can have – he calls these the Four Pleasures. They are as follows.
Physio-Pleasure. This is to do with the body and the senses. It includes pleasures associated with touch, taste and smell, as well as feelings of sensual pleasure. It also includes pleasures associated with physical enablement, such as being able to perform physical tasks.
Psycho-Pleasure. Pleasures associated with the mind such as being able to understand things and positive emotional states. Mental challenges come into this category as do things that people find interesting.
Socio-Pleasure. This is to do with relationships, both in the concrete and abstract sense. Concrete relationships are those with specific people, such as friends, family, co-workers, neighbours and loved ones. Abstract ones are concerned with our relationship with society as a whole, such as our social status, image and memberships of social groups.
Ideo-Pleasure. These include our tastes, values and aspirations. Tastes are to do with our preferences – what colours we like best, what kinds of music and art we like for example. Values are to do with our moral belief system and our sense of right and wrong. Meanwhile, our aspirations are to do with our sense of who we want to be and the self-image of ourselves that we want to have.
To understand people deeply and holistically we need to know what is important to them with respect to all four of these dimensions. This knowledge can enable us to give people positive experiences, enhance the quality of people’s lives and help them to fulfil their dreams.
2. Case Studies
2.1 Harley Davidson
Harley-Davidson have enjoyed phenomenal success in recent years. They achieved this success through understanding the appeal of their brand image and realising that although they make motorcycles, they are not really in the motorcycle business. Rather their business is about selling lifestyle.
Harley has a heritage that has led to the brand developing certain associations – freedom, rebellion, youthfulness and the American way of life. Their research has shown that people buy Harleys because of these associations and not because they believe the motorcycles to be superior technically, or in terms of performance, when compared to other motorcycle manufacturers.
Instead of trying to make motorcycles that were faster than Kawasaki, more reliable than BMW or better built than Honda, Harley-Davidson simply concentrated on their image and heritage.
The design of their motorcycles has changed little over the years and they have not added that many new motorcycles to their range. Instead they have concentrated on emphasising the positive values that people already associate with the brand and this has been the focus of their marketing and advertising campaigns.
They have proved particularly successful with the ‘baby-boomer’ generation – people who were born in the decade following the Second World War and who grew up in the 1960s. The values associated with Harley closely mirror the values of the 1960s generation and now that many boomers are at the top of their professions and have a large disposable income, they can go out and buy the motorcycle that they have always dreamed of.
The question in the minds of many of these people is not, “shall I buy a Harley or a Honda?”, but rather “shall I live the dream and buy the Harley I have always wanted, or shall I do something ‘sensible’ such as invest in the stock market or build a conservatory on my home?”
Harley’s strategy has addressed this question head-on. A recent TV commercial portrayed an older man in his 70s or 80s who regrets investing in stocks rather than having brought a Harley. The message is that if you are in your 50s or 60s you still have 20 years to enjoy riding a Harley, so don’t do the ‘sensible’ thing, go out and live your dreams.
They also created a special club, The Harley Owners Group (HOG) which people automatically become a member of when they buy a new Harley-Davidson. HOG organises group ride-outs and offers merchandise and regalia reminiscent in style to the Hell’s Angels.
By emphasising the Harley lifestyle, the company have made owning and riding their bikes into an escape from the mundanity of every day life and every trip a little adventure. It has proved an extremely appealing approach and made Harley-Davidson one of the most successful firms in the Dream Economy.
Founded in Seattle in 1971, Starbucks have established themselves as the world’s leading coffee house and have become a huge global brand. Starbucks put a huge amount of effort into finding and blending great coffee and training their baristas to prepare it just right. However, it is not just the coffee that has driven their success, but the whole Starbucks experience.
The company’s strategy is to try and make their stores what they call the ‘third place’ in people’s lives – the home being the ‘first place’ and the workplace the ‘second place’. The idea is that Starbucks is a place you can go to relax and read the paper, hang out with friends, do some work, or even have a business meeting. And the longer that people spend in the store, the more money they are likely to spend.
Initially Starbucks core customer was highly-educated professional women based on the West Coast of the USA (where Starbucks started out). To many of these women, the idea of the European street café or coffee-house was attractive. In Europe there was a tradition of people spending time over their coffee reading, chatting or playing games.
Compared to the American diner or fast food outlets, the atmosphere in the European cafes was relaxed and sophisticated and very appealing to Starbucks core customer base. What was not appealing to them however were European standards of service (or at least their perceptions about this service). For all the sophistication of the European café, the thought of having to wait a long time for service from a surly waiter did not appeal, especially to professional women with busy lives.
Essentially, what Starbucks offered was a sophisticated European atmosphere, but with American standards of service. It was a combination which proved irresistible and made the company into one of the worlds most well recognised and appealing brands.
This European/American ambience started after CEO Howard Schultz took a trip to Milan and was inspired by the atmosphere there. As the company grew, it appeal rested on a combination of perceived status, luxury and sophistication. Even if people just got a coffee to go, there was a sense of pride in walking down the street with a Starbucks cup, the prominent logo there for all to see. Buying a coffee at Starbucks sent out a message – I am a successful, sophisticated person and I can afford to pay $2 for a cup of coffee. Indeed the high price was all part of the appeal, giving the perception of exclusivity.
The success of Starbucks has created a whole new market sector with many competitors coming into the market with similar offers and also proving successful. Examples include Peets and Seattle’s Finest in the USA and Costa Coffee and Café Nero in the UK.
Cosmetic company L’Oreal have proved extremely successful in recent years, experiencing double-digit growth year on year for over two decades. Remarkably, they have achieved this at a time when many of their competitors have been having difficulties.
One of the reasons that L’Oreal have been so successful is that they have an in-depth understanding of the social and lifestyle trends that affect their market. In particular, they have understood contemporary ideals of femininity and have positioned the brand perfectly to reflect these.
In post-feminist society ‘tough glamour’ has become the new ideal. This is about women being strong, smart and assertive but also being feminine and taking care of their appearance at the same time. This is reflected in the way that women are portrayed in the media. Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena the Warrior Princess have proved huge TV hits for example.
Looking at the role of women in James Bond movies – often considered a barometer of female glamour – it is noticeable that they have become far more assertive over the years, Where once they may have simply been the love interest or someone who needed to be rescued by Bond, now they are just as likely to be the ones rescuing Bond or the ones trying to kill him!
It is not only in the make-believe world of movies that we see tough-glamour. Women sports stars such as the Williams sisters also embody this trend. Perhaps more importantly, the tough glamour ideal is something that many women recognise in their everyday lives.
More and more women are juggling busy lives and building impressive careers. While in the past there might have been the perception that success in the workplace required women to ‘behave like men’ – something that was often said of Margaret Thatcher for example – this perception has now disappeared. There is no contradiction between being a successful career woman and taking care of your appearance.
L’Oreal encapsulate the spirit of tough glamour in their tagline, “Because I’m worth it.” They are not trying to tell women how they should look, but rather empowering them with a message that it is up to them to decide how they wish to look and how they wish to express their beauty. And whatever they decide L’Oreal will provide them with the products that will enable them to achieve this.
In their TV commercials, the company uses well known women to promote their products, such as successful actresses and musicians. They are not just unknown models, but rather women of high achievement.
Their website features articles about many of their senior scientists, who are all women, talking about their work, their interests and how they have built their careers. The company is also one of the biggest sponsors of the Women Into Science and Engineering (WISE) initiative which encourages girls and young women to study technical subjects at school and university. They also award substantial prises to the world’s leading female scientists.
L’Oreal have understood contemporary femininity better than any of their competitors, have built a brand to reflect this, and then, through their initiatives, built a community around the brand. Their in-depth understanding of their customers has been rewarded with huge success (Popcorn, 2001).
3. Analysis – 4 Pleasures
Looking back over the three case studies, the one thing they had in common was an in-depth understanding of their customers. Looking at Tiger’s Four Pleasures model we can see that each of the successful companies delivered positive experiences on a variety of dimensions (table 2).
|PHYSIO||>||Quality Coffee||Enhanced Appearance|
|PSYCHO||>||Confidence in Service||>|
|SOCIO||Camaraderie and Rebel Image||Successful Image||Attractiveness and Assertiveness|
|IDEO||Freedom and Youthfulness||Sophistication||Association with Success|
To be successful a product or service does not necessarily need to deliver benefits in all four of the pleasure categories. In this case, the analysis suggests that Starbucks delivers benefits in all four categories and that the others do in two or three each.
However, provided the benefits were strong enough, it would be quite possible to create a successful product based on delivering benefits in just one of these categories.
Thinking about all four categories gives a thorough and structured approach to assessing consumers’ needs and wishes. It is advisable to consider each of the categories in turn at the start of any design process, even if ultimately it is decided that they may not all be relevant in a particular instance.
The rules of success in the Dream Economy dictate that companies need to offer customers products and services that not only work well, but which also enhance their self-image and self-esteem, and which connect with their values.
In an increasingly individualistic and consumerist society people are more and more likely to define themselves by their consumer choices and by the results of those choices. If companies help their customers to feel positive about themselves, then the chances are that they will feel positive about the brand.
Getting this right is about user-centred design in the broadest sense. Not only is it about the design of the product and service itself, it is also about the image that a company projects, the way it behaves and the way it communicates.
In the era of the Dream Economy understanding people is the key to success. The Four Pleasures provides a framework for gaining an in-depth and holistic understanding of users. As well as looking at people physically and psychologically, it also looks at their values and aspirations – their hopes, their fears and their dreams.
By understanding people, knowing what they want and meeting their needs, we can create products that are useful, usable and a genuine joy to own and use, both now and in the future.
Jordan, P.W., Designing Pleasurable Products, 2002 (Taylor and Francis: London)
Norman, D.A., Emotional Design, 2005 (Basic Books: New York)
Popcorn, F., Eveolution – The Eight Truths of Marketing to Women, 2001 (Harper-Collins: New York)
Tiger, L., The Pursuit of Pleasure, 1993 (Little-Brown: New York)
Dr. Patrick W. Jordan is an international design and marketing consultant, author and professional speaker. His methods and ideas have influenced the design of many of the products that we find in our homes, cities and workplaces.
Pat is Owner and CEO of the Contemporary Trends Institute [CTI], an international trends and branding consultancy. Clients of CTI include multinational companies from many different industry sectors, including: aerospace, consumer goods, computers and IT, consumer electronics, medical, telecommunications, food and beverage, leisure and retail.
Dr. Jordan has been invited to lecture at conferences and seminars all over the world. He has over 100 publications in peer reviewed journals, books and conference proceedings. He has written or edited 6 books, five of which have reached # 1 in the Amazon.com category bestsellers lists, and is currently the world's best selling author in his field. His books include Designing Pleasurable Products (Taylor and Francis 2000). This has become a standard design and marketing text within both industry and academia.
Buy books by this author from amazon.co.uk:
How to Make Brilliant Stuff That People...
Possible Related Articles: