Steve BrockDecember 08, 2021

The New Wealth of Want

Modern societies have evolved to the point that just satisfying needs does not sufficiently address the desires of today’s employees or customers.  It is addressing their wants that is driving both personal and business wealth in today’s Experience Economy.  Today’s progressive businesses are ascribing to the reality that they are now in the “experiences” business and are adopting AI-powered experience platforms and ecosystems that enable them to become closer to their customers and move up the value continuum from satisfaction to intimacy. 

Experiences are the New Wealth

I’ve always been very intrigued by Abraham Maslow’s work – to the point that my thesis in graduate school centered on the applicability of his famous model describing human motivation to the workplace.  Most people are familiar with the term “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.”   What many may not realize is that this model comprises both “needs” and “wants.” 





Considering this model, we see that the desire and focus in modern society have shifted.  Yes, many of us have shifted upward – moving from “deficiency” needs to “growth.”  But we have also shifted horizontally – moving from “needs” to “wants.”  A need is the “what” and a want is the “how” you address a particular human desire.  Today we don’t want to just address a desire – we want to address it in a specific way.  We don’t just want generic products or services that keep us “healthy.”  We want to realize the “wealth” of new experiences – to make memories, and to transform our existence. 




The foundation of many business models today is the fact that we don’t just buy things we need, we purchase or invest our time in what we “want.”  More and more – these purchases (or investments) are experiences, rather than products.   And usually, it is because of how these experiences make us feel. 

Think about something you have recently purchased that you didn’t need – but you did it because it made you feel better.  It may have been a certain pair of shoes, a favorite brand of clothing, or the latest electronic device.  It may have been choosing to purchase a sports car over “point A to B” transportation.  In this case, you might appreciate the benefit of high-performance engineering (a high-quality product).   But that likely pales in comparison to how driving it makes you feel about yourself (the experience).  It is often the case that a product (cars, electronics, coffee) enables the experience – but it is the experience itself that we value. 

Moving Forward from Satisfaction to Intimacy

And this applies to most of our purchases today.  I may NEED a haircut, but I WANT to go to my favorite barber to get it because I enjoy our discussions (about really nothing in particular) and catching up with everyone at the shop.   I may NEED something to drink, but I also WANT MY non-fat, extra-hot, skinny triple venti toffee nut latte (with my name on the cup). 

For today’s business, this presents both a challenge and an opportunity.  We all NEED the same things (per Maslow’s pyramid view).   But why doesn’t everyone drive a Volkswagen?  Why don’t we all dress the same?  Why don’t we all practice the same politics or religion?  The answer is that we all WANT different things!   

Treating employees and customers as if they all want the same thing is MONOLITHIC thinking.  EXPERIENCES thinking requires moving from satisfaction to intimacy – from offering products or services that just meet a need to continue learning more about each customer and tailoring the experience to what each one wants.  A business is a set of employees, and a market is a set of customers.  When an employee is “engaged” – this is a statement about the employee, not the employer.  When a customer chooses to interact with a business – this is based on what they “want” as an individual, not what products or services the business is offering.

To survive and thrive in the future, businesses must shift from Monolithic thinking to Experience thinking – which means wrapping their business value around each employee and customer and composing and delivering experiences at the moment based on a specific context and understanding of the desires of that individual.

The Power of the Individual

The economy in which we live today has been described in many ways – the API Economy, the Experience Economy, the Postpandemic Economy…  so I’m not going to coin another term and say that we are in the “Want’s Economy” or the “Feel Good Economy”  – but the reality is that there is NO single economy or market.  There are not five or ten or twenty markets.  As of December 2021, there are 7.9 billion markets!   Because every individual is a distinct market.   Each person is an economy of ONE.   The business that wins in the future is the one that understands their highest potential target markets and then tailors the experience they deliver to the point that EACH of these markets feels like they are their FAVORITE employee or customer. 

Doing this requires a technology platform designed to create and deliver “in the moment” experiences.  Avaya OneCloud™ is a great choice to meet this need.  It is an AI-powered Total Experience platform that makes it easy to wrap your business value around each employee and customer.  And the Avaya Experience Builders™ ecosystem surrounds YOU with all the expertise and tools you need to maximize the potential of this platform for your business.

Let’s Get Smarter Together!

Want to learn more?  Sign up for the Avaya Engage conference to hear leading experts like Joe Pine, co-author of the prolific work “The Experience Economy” provide you with the insights that will ensure you are in tune with today’s world.  You can attend many sessions virtually.  And it is free to sign up! 

I will be presenting a few sessions myself and look forward to meeting you either physically or virtually at Avaya Engage 2021

The New Wealth of Want

Steve Brock

Steve has broad industry experience that includes the design, engineering and global deployment of innovative communications solutions. Steve has worked with customers all over the world to solve complex consumer and business communication problems. You can follow Steve at @SteveBrockRTP.

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