Why more companies could sell discomfort

Online commerce and services have mostly trained us to prioritize comfort and convenience when spending money. As thoughts follow actions, some of us have come to see comfort as a necessity, equating it to our safety, well-being, health, and fulfillment. It follows that many would view a lack of comfort, or discomfort, as a threat to those things.

But comfort has its downsides, optimizing for comfort can lead us to do things that harm other lifestyle factors — such as eating unhealthy food and speaking half-truths. And, discomfort has its upsides, such as building resilience and driving growth.

Recent marketing has mainly sold comfort as a value consumers should optimize for and I think this has left a white space for companies to sell discomfort, or more importantly the long term benefits that can come with a little bit of discomfort.

Nowhere do I see more enthusiasm for embracing a little discomfort than in the Financial Independence communities that are growing online (known as FIRE by some). Much of the dialogue in this community is about challenging one’s beliefs around comfort and embracing the long term benefits of short term discomfort.

I see a lane for companies to reach consumers by eschewing comfort and convenience for something else — such as freedom, fulfillment or mental well-being. Companies like Lightphone and the Flip’d app are good examples of this. I expect to see more.