Mindful spending

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Trendwatching sent out a blurb a few weeks back about a company called Tuxe, a U.S.-based retailer that produces luxury women’s bodysuits. The product is beautiful, yet what caught my eye was the news that Tuxe recently began offering free coaching sessions to shoppers who made a purchase. The company learned that customers were wearing Tuxe bodysuits during key moments in their professional lives and decided to capitalize on that by launching online sessions focusing on career issues with business and life coach Ianna Raim.

Trendwatching cited the move as “part of the wider trend toward turning products into services, keeping consumers engaged long after they make a purchase.” And it pointed out that being a lifestyle brand today requires paying close attention to what a product does for a customer’s higher order needs.

Hyperbole? I really don’t think so. While it may be impossible to apply this to every item one buys, I’m finding that the purchases I make these days are not just about satisfying an immediate need; they reflect what’s important to me on a much broader level.

After hearing a colleague share her experience with Beautycounter and learning that products I once trusted contained harmful ingredients, my thinking shifted. Listening to company founder Gregg Renfrew speak at NRF’s Shop.org conference this fall sealed the deal. I began replacing once-favorite skin care items with products that align with what’s far more important to me: Making sure I’m not putting harmful chemicals on my skin. Like many online companies, Beautycounter routinely sends emails with product alerts and special offers, yet the chance to connect with a consultant for more precise guidance goes a long way toward keeping me engaged and providing a service that sets it apart from other brands.

Too many of us have watched how cancer can ravage those we love. With that foremost in my mind, I’ve begun a personal quest to reduce mine and my family’s exposure to toxic chemicals — whether it’s the products I use for cleaning, the water I drink or the suntan lotion I apply at the beach. Any company that pays attention to that objective is winning my business.

Brandless is a retailer that pays close attention to how the products they sell reflect customers’ higher order needs. The words “certified organic,” “non-GMO” and “vegan” resonate. Until just a few years ago, I didn’t read labels very closely and I was somewhat convinced that “organic” was a soft excuse to pay more. Those days are behind me and since discovering Brandless, my devotion to healthier choices has become easier and cost effective; this company understands the new ethos that rules my world.

Brands need to pay attention to not only how a product satisfies a customer’s need but also how it connects with the shopper on a personal and emotional level. Buying for the sake of buying is a trend that went out of style a long time ago. It’s not all about health and wellness: Maybe the relationship is about delivering exclusive digital content, a la the NBA’s Connected Jersey.

Consumers are choosing to associate with brands that build the strongest personal and emotional connections because it matters.

Dedicated to my mom, Nancy DeStefano, whose selfless and graceful nature taught me all I need to know about making good choices.

Follow @Susan_Reda and #STORESMag on Twitter for retail news and trends.

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