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Terahaku, a website allowing tourists to book stays in Japanese temples, debuted this month. The platform’s launch coincides with Japan’s new minpaku law, which lowers legal barriers to renting out properties as short-term lodgings. Terahaku, which is set to integrate with Airbnb and, will let guests search for and book reservations at Japanese temples, including those in struggling rural areas of Japan.

Self-improvement is an age-old and powerful human need. But it’s no secret that in 2018, much about our contemporary, Insta-fueled, #soblessed self-improvement culture is pretty superficial. That’s causing rising numbers of consumers to re-examine their own quest to be all they can be, and go in search of deeper forms of well-being, wisdom and enlightenment. And yes, unplugging is often a part of that.

The irony in Terahaku, of course, is that it’s an online platform that’s enabling all this. The expectations generated by a connected world, and, more specifically here, the sharing economy, are inescapable. They apply even when consumers are seeking to escape from modernity by spending a few nights in an ancient Japanese temple!

Winning in the Expectation Economy means seeing and responding to changing consumer expectations. And sometimes, it means embracing paradoxical sets of expectations, such as those embodied by Terahaku. So two questions. First, how can you serve the emerging consumer demand for deeper, more enlightened forms of self-improvement? And second, what sets of competing, even paradoxical expectations does your business face?

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