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Welcome to the Experience Economy

Commoditized. No company wants that word applied to its goods or services. Merely mentioning commoditization sends shivers down the spines of executives and entrepreneurs alike. Differentiation disappears, margins fall through the floor, and customers buy solely on the basis of price, price, price.

Consider, however, a true commodity: the coffee bean. Companies that harvest coffee or trade it on the futures market receive—at the time of this writing—a little more than 75 cents per pound, which translates into 1 or 2 cents a cup. When a manufacturer roasts, grinds, packages, and sells those same beans in a grocery store, turning them into a good, the price to a consumer jumps to between 5 and 25 cents a cup ...

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