Book Review: The Transformational Consumer, by Tara-Nicholle Nelson

Very few people start drinking kombucha because they are happy with the ‘same old, same old.’ Our customers are, by definition, people willing to embrace new experiences, products, and tastes. As individuals, they each have reasons for making the leap to kombucha. Tara-Nicholle Nelson’s book, The Transformational Consumer (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2017), leverages her master’s in psychology and real-life marketing experience and applies it to people in a segment of the population that has been steadily growing in the last decade. Dubbed “Transformational Consumers,” these individuals embrace change as they seek out novel ways of living healthier, wealthier and wiser lives.

Market Segment

Based on her experience in marketing everything from health apps to online real estate, Tara has studied the behavior of early adopters who influence others and transform the market. Citing extensive surveys and research, she makes a compelling case that Transformational Consumers engage in a broad spectrum of behaviors, one of which we can assume is drinking kombucha! Indeed, she claims that 60% of US consumer spending has transformational characteristics.

The Hero’s Journey

Not simply espousing theory, the book’s real value is the framework and practical exercises that help any company rethink how they sell their product, understand customers and prospects, develop marketing strategies, conceive of competitors, and treat employees. Stating a proven statistic that the average person makes between 200 to 300 food and drink-related decisions a day, it’s clear that there is ample opportunity to connect with consumers beyond the limiting transactional approach many brands utilize.

She recommends shifting the focus from a ‘product-first’ company to what she terms a ‘problem-first’ company. As an example, rather than marketing your brand as ‘the best’ kombucha ever made, tell the story of how kombucha has transformed your life. Effectively telling a different story requires investing time to uncover challenges consumers face and find ways to engage with them in terms of their specific problems, dreams, and lives. 

She shares tools to help you get to the core of your customers’ lives. Termed the “Hero’s Journey,” she identifies how you find where your product fits in that journey. She advises that you create marketing content that “either alleviates the frictions your customers are experiencing as they try to create change or inspires and excites them about the possibilities for their lives.”  

In other words, fade out the Instagram pictures of bottles of your ‘booch on the beach and spotlight people enjoying kombucha as part of their journey to living healthier lives.

Beyond the Book

Tara includes links to free resources at, where a sample chapter and videos are available. And if you want to follow her on Instagram or LinkedIn, look for Tara Nicholle Kirk – since she’s undergone a transformation of her own since writing the book requiring a new last name!

This review originally appeared in the Spring 2022 edition of SYMBIOSIS – the Official Journal of Kombucha Brewers International. Both print-on-demand and electronic versions of the magazine are available for purchase.

Symbiosis Magazine - Spring 2022

KBI PUBLIC Magazines: Symbiosis Magazine – Spring 2022

SYMBIOSIS Magazine is the official Journal of Kombucha Brewers International. Enjoy brewing tips and techniques, equipment reviews, industry stats and information to improve your business. Plus well researched scientific articles on the health benefits, brewery member profiles, and more!

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