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The life-changing magic of the lucrative transformation economy

Lucy Sherston for Quartz
  • Jenni Avins
By Jenni Avins

senior lifestyle correspondent

Published Last updated on

Twenty years ago, B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore coined the term “the experience economy” in their seminal article in Harvard Business Review and soon-to-be-reissued book of the same title. Pine and Gilmore wrote about how over centuries, consumers’ dollars—and workers’ hours—have shifted from commodities, to goods, then to services, and finally to experiences.

Consider the coffee bean. As a commodity, it fetches a uniform price on the market—$1.04 per pound, at the time of writing—or a few cents per cup. As a good—that is, after coffee beans are processed via roasting, grinding, and packaging—they’re worth more. Coffee becomes a service when someone else, say, a guy at a convenience store, brews that coffee for you. That’s even more valuable to consumers, worth maybe a couple of dollars. And when coffee becomes an experience—picture your favorite café, where the music is always good, the lighting is just so, and the barista remembers your order—it’s an experience, worth at least another dollar.

But what if that coffee is life-changing? What if, as is the promise of the Seattle-based Bulletproof Coffee—which is essentially coffee made with butter—it has the power to create a desired outcome in the consumer, to help them biohack to a happier, smarter, better-rested state of being? And what if you become a Bulletproof acolyte as a result, reading Bulletproof books, listening to the Bulletproof Radio podcast, and paying to attend Bulletproof biohacking conferences?

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