The experience economy has been brewing for the past two decades as increasing numbers of consumers are choosing to spend their money on experiences and memories rather than premium products. It’s the reason we are seeing more restaurants, nail bars and coffee houses instead of shops on our high streets, why 1,000 festivals – from music, to food, to poetry – took place in 2016, and why Barclaycard reported double-figure increases in entertainment-based spending last year.
But how has this trend come about, and how can your business benefit from it?
What’s caused the experience economy?
People are more connected with the world than ever before: through imports (nearly half of total food consumed in the UK is imported according to the Global Food Security), better access to transport and the advancements in technology, namely the internet. This has fuelled our curiosity to see more, learn more and ultimately experience more.
Along with the growing addiction to documenting our lives on various social media platforms, consumers are suffering from a FOMO epidemic – that’s ‘fear of missing out’ for those that haven’t got their urban dictionary to hand.
We are constantly being bombarded with images of all the amazing things that other people are experiencing around the world, how much fun everyone is having, and the positive attention this receives from other users; and we want the same. Not just for the experience itself but also for the likes and digital appreciation it will earn us from our own social media following.
With house prices and student loans higher than ever before, minimal interest rates on bank savings and an ever increasing retirement age, it’s not surprising that young people are now trading in traditional symbols of success (i.e. the big house and nice car) and instead are seeking out adventures and lasting memories that you can’t put a price on… and then sharing this experience with everyone and anyone who’ll listen on social media, of course.
How to turn your brand into an experience
So how can you cash in on this experience economy? Well here’s three great places to start:
1. Tell a story
Today’s consumers are driven by values and are concerned about who they buy from and the origins of the products they buy. Delivering the story behind your brand is a great opportunity to connect with your target audience on a deeper, more personal level and gain influence over their purchasing decisions.
With so many (often rather similar) offerings, consumers are more likely to opt for the brand with whom they feel a connection. It will also help to establish trust in your company by providing transparency and creating a personality for your brand that consumers can get to know and like.
What’s more, stories are memorable and therefore will have a lasting impression on your audience.
2. Make it personal
Whilst finding the balance between personalisation and data privacy can be a double-edged sword, consumers are far more forthcoming with their information if you use the intel they have given you to make their lives easier in some way. For example, offering them a discount voucher for a product that complements a recent purchase, or recommending items you think they’d like based on their shopping history. This will show not only that you are paying attention to your customer but will also provide added value and a memorable experience associated with your brand. It shows that you understand what that individual needs and providing a personalised service without being overbearing or invasive.
3. Have a conversation
There’s a reason the top two apps used globally in 2017 are messaging apps – they are the ultimate tool for personal communication, and an ideal platform through which to interact with your consumers and build a rapport.
According to a study published by Infosys, 89% of shoppers who engage with retailers via social media channels say those interactions have an impact on their purchasing choices.
Many company Facebook accounts operate on a customer service level rather than as an advertising tool. It pays to be responsive to comments and reviews regarding your brand, even the unfavourable ones. If people see you dealing with unsatisfied customers professionally and effectively it’ll reassure them that your company is a pleasure to do business with.
Less than 1 in 25 disgruntled customers will complain directly to you, so you’ll need to do some digging. Being a proactive social listener is a great place to start; check posts and blogs regularly for comments and feedback, use the search tool on Twitter for references to your brand that do not include your official handle and scour relevant review sites to see if anyone has shared their experience with your company.