Here at h & h we've been writing about 'experiential marketing' and 'the experience economy' a lot recently and it got me thinking.... is it all just marketing buzz? What does it really mean for today's consumer?
In fact, whether you realise it or not, mainly because of social media, most of us are fully signed up members of 'the experience economy' and we can't get enough of it. The concept has been doing the rounds for a while now: the term was well and truly coined way before the turn of the millennium and analysts were already writing about it. Put simply, it's all about buying into experiences that create happy memories by making an emotional connection. It's also something we can share on social media to achieve that gratifying insta-moment. It enhances our life by giving us a new experience that we can share with others and psychologists say that experiences makes us happier than things - unless you're competing on social media and suffering with FOMO (fear of missing out), of course!! Brands have long since cottoned onto this. So, for example, instead of buying your other half the latest version of their favourite brand of coffee machine, you might sign them up to a 'barista for a day' coffee tasting workshop run by said brand. After all, it could be the difference between creating a happy memory and the anxiety-filled dilemma of what to do with the old coffee machine, which there was nothing really wrong with in the first place.
So this year, if you're an experiential brand, you're onto a winner - and this is why, I am buying into you....
Over the last decade, I've realised that I've become swamped by 'stuff'. To put it James Wallman's way, I'm suffering from 'stuffocation' or, as Oliver James would say, I've been struck by "Affluenza". Several house moves have forced me to confront my (our) hoard of stuff (- having children will really 'stuffocate' you if you haven't managed to 'self-stuffocate'!). At times, I can honestly say I've felt somewhat anxious about the 'stuff' we've accumulated and exactly what to do with it! At my most desperate, a remote cabin in the highlands of Scotland has been a fantasy of mine. In its simplest form, my awakening and transition from consuming goods to buying into experiences can be defined by deciding to do a boot fair last summer: a new (and cathartic) experience - being up before 7am on a Sunday morning and shedding lots of unwanted stuff! (And yes, I posted it on FB and Insta #industrious) So, I'm not saying I've stopped going shopping (as if!) but instead of filling stockings with superfluous Christmas presents - think slime or life-size baby dolphins that make noises and need feeding and then get put in a cupboard never to be seen again - I've adopted a new strategy. I'm buying into experiences or 'experiential products' e.g. a board game, riding boots, tickets to the theatre or a sporting event for that all important 'memory-making = happiness' formula. Best Christmas present this year? Tickets to see the England Roses beat the Australian Diamonds in the International Netball Quad Series and the kids loved it too. What a great memory that made! Next up, a good old fashioned night out at the pub with a new experience: playing a game of shuffleboard - now to find a pub with a shuffleboard....and a babysitter!
Experience economy? Bring it on!
I recently helped a client realise a new blog with the aim being to showcase their team of experts and engage with new and existing customers. It got me thinking about how we can ensure our blogs are more purposeful. Rather than being somewhere you can post all your news, features and anything else that occurs to you as a way to generate content, your blog should have a clear objective, a voice suited to your audience and relevant, engaging content.
So, let’s imagine you’re looking to position yourself as an expert solutions provider in your market rather than simply a producer or supplier. A blog can certainly help you achieve this. It’s ideal for showcasing the breadth of your industry knowledge and your trend analyses to give customers market insight.
So, here are my top tips for a purposeful blog:
In a survey, in which 10,000 young people were asked if they had drunk alcohol in the past week, a staggering 50% hadn't, that's up from 35% in 2005. So now, 16-24 year olds are the second biggest group of abstainers, after the elderly. This must be music to the ears of health campaigners and the NHS! Not such good news if you're a pub landlord, off-licence owner or any kind of alcoholic drink producer, you might wonder. The knock-on effect must be that youngsters are simply not going on a night out solely to drink together. We already know that the younger generations, dubbed millennials, are motivated by experiences, which are entertaining, novel and add to their own story.
Previously, we've already seen the trend for low or no-alcohol beers, wines and spirits gathering pace in an effort to keep step with this evolution in consumer drinking habits. Surely now, pub and bar retailers have to get seriously creative to entice the younger generations back into the pub environment for a cheeky half or three. It's not just about your drink offer, it's also about how you can add value to a night out at the pub. As many of the older, past generations of pub goers did, perhaps it's time to get the tried and tested analogue pub games out, mix it up with a few new ones (don't forget they like new experiences!) and bring the quizmaster back, only this time a younger, leaner version who is partial to a diet coke!
Now, it might seem logical that if you're looking for top-drawer PR you'd plump for an all singing-all dancing, full service agency, working with the top names. Makes sense, right? But, do you need all singing-all dancing? More to the point, is your budget up to it? If your answer to these is 'Yes' then maybe you don't need to read any further, but then again maybe you should....
More often than not, your independent PR practitioner has honed their skillset and experience at said top-notch agency and taken the leap to "do it their way" because of personal circumstances or to make a proactive lifestyle choice. Just because they're flying solo it doesn't mean that they can't add value to your business with the same creativity and professionalism. What's more, with minimal overheads - the majority work from home - they can certainly offer more bang for your buck.
Then, consider this: independents are dynamic individuals who are super-motivated to succeed. They absolutely have to be. Firstly, they're a business leader committed to succeeding. Like a leader, they are accountable: for every piece of advice they give, every release they issue and ultimately for ensuring they are delivering results that meet the client's objectives. When you choose an independent practitioner you're definitely getting 'what you see on the label' and there is nowhere to hide.
By opting for a freelancer, you can find someone who really matches your needs. There will be a freelancer with the sector specialisms and specific skillset that is the perfect fit for your business. But, hang on, what if there is something they don't have experience of? If there is one thing Indie PRs are good at it's networking - they'll know someone who can.
Still not convinced? Perhaps you're thinking "yep, but they can't possibly be up to speed with the latest knowledge and skills because they don't have access to the agency talent pool?" I'd argue: yes, actually (of course, I would!). Indies have to be even more committed to training and personal development to ensure they are relevant. With industry organisations such as the CIPR and PRCA, there are plenty of ways to plug into a continuous personal development programme. What's more, the CIPR have just announced the launch of an independent practitioners group, so the good news is we now have a dedicated support network. Add to this online marketplace platforms such as The PR Cavalry and The Work Crowd, which are akin to dating apps for clients and PRs, and you could go as far to say that 2019 will be "the Year of the Indie PR".
So what are you waiting for, go find yourself an all singing-all dancing, #trending indie PR!
#indiePR #CIPRindie #entrepreneur #publicrelations
Now admittedly this may not be new to most but as we've been out of the country for a fair few years the Harris + Hoole coffee shop at a nearby Tesco was a pleasant surprise. We're pretty used to finding the likes of Costa in supermarkets and petrol stations these days. But a coffee shop that feels artisan and offers exciting non-coffee drinks and has the right dash of the personal touch is a welcome discovery.
With a laid-back diner feel, plenty of light and air and a smiley, enthusiastic - not to mention talented - barista (or hooligan as they are known in-house), it felt like we'd arrived somewhere a bit different. As it was a girly indulge in some sweet sustenance between finishing school and going to an after-school activity, we were after something more than just a pick-me-up latte. We weren't disappointed! Refreshing pink grapefruit soda made with our old friends' MONIN's delicious pink grapefruit syrup was lip-smacking and works wonders at waking you up if you've had your caffeine quota for the day. Add to this a memorable mango smoothie and a delightful hot chocolate topped with the cutest foamy bear face you ever did see (courtesy of our talented barista) and we were fully recharged and raring to go again. (Did we forget the crumbly, goes-everywhere, melt-in-the-mouth Millionaire's Shortbread? We're trying to!)
Of course it goes without saying that here at hoot & holler we can't help take our hat off to the beautifully named Harris + Hoole. It was obviously written in the coffee foam that our paths would cross. Now, we've downloaded the app and are heading back for a free taste of the H+H coffee this week. Do holler if you ever need any PR!
So, two of the big names in grocery retailing, Sainsbury's and Asda, are poised to become one. In what is set to be the biggest deal in grocery retailing since 2004 when Safeway was taken over by Morrison, it looks as though Tesco's position as top dog of the supermarket giants with a 27% market share may be under threat and the big four will become the big three.
Stiff competition from German discount retailers Lidl and Aldi meant it was only a matter of time until something had to change within this sector. Initial media reports have signalled that the deal will look to maintain all or the majority of Sainsbury's and Asda stores as the merger recognises the complementary geographical spread of each retailer's stores: Asda being stronger in the North and Sainsbury's in the South. Evidently, this mega-merger will increase buying power significantly for both retailers.
It remains to be seen how the Competition and Markets Authority will view the deal. One particularly interesting area will be the retailers' combined share of the toy market, in which Sainsbury's have already made significant gains with their acquisition of Argos.
Whatever the outcome, supermarket retailing remains one of the fastest-moving, exciting sectors and this deal is one to watch.
Go on, what are you waiting for? Indulge yourself. From a frothy coffee to get your day off to the right start to a spot of shopping or lunch with a friend, the art of pleasure-seeking is a necessary antidote to the humdrum of the everyday.
So much of our pleasure comes from what we imbibe, quaff, stuff and nibble and it's no coincidence that many businesses nowadays are cottoning onto this fact. A little treat goes a long way when it comes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Waitrose have got it spot on: the lure of a free luscious latte or creamy cappuccino when you make a purchase and present your loyalty card in-store. They are very successfully ensuring that they are the food retailer uppermost in your mind when you need to pop for a loaf of bread, a pint of milk or a mid-week stock-up. (It also helps that they are closest to my front door, close enough for a brisk 15 minute walk with the promise of frothy coffee to spur me on the journey back. Not forgetting, the added bonus that I've burnt off the milky coffee calories or so I believe!)
If you're thinking this doesn't even register on the pleasure scale, granted a Freakshake with whipped cream, cookies, sprinkles, marshmallows and any other sticky sugariness you care to dream up may be the ultimate indulgence - as well as becoming a feature on your Instagram feed. But whichever end of the scale you find yourself at, the hot drink has become somewhat emblematic of the pleasure we take from our food and drink consumption. (BTW, If you're into the pleasure-pain equation then the Freakshake has to be your toughest gym class twice over to work that baby off - just saying!)
A recent, very pleasurable trip to Paris involved good girlfriends, coffee, an art exhibition followed by - yes you guessed it - lunch. As two of them are gluten intolerant (what are the odds?) they made me walk 10-minutes in the pouring rain (slightly painful but I was in Paris still) to seek out 'Noglu' an entirely gluten-free café. If you're now sighing and thinking here comes the painful bit: she was forced to eat alternative food, seeking to emulate the wonderful wheat-laden French breads and patisseries, then you are entirely mistaken. Noglu is a revelation. If you want utterly scrumptious, leave-me-wanting-more, how-can-this-carrot-cake-possibly-be-healthy-it-tastes-too- divine lunchtime fare then go straight to Noglu, do not pass Goglu! It's a pleasure-seeker's paradise ( -and it's all bathed in rose gold). Now, I just need one about a 15-minute brisk walk from my front door. Could life get any better??
"Believe you can and you're halfway there" Theodore Roosevelt
New beginnings are good for the soul. They keep us fresh, stop us from stagnating and take us on a new journey. The dawning of a new year is a great time to realise a new project. Whether it's searching for a new home, undertaking a new fitness regime, learning a new language or maybe launching a new business, they all require commitment and hard work.
Take building a business, for example, it takes bags of enthusiasm, self-belief and a dogged determination to succeed on what can sometimes seem a lonely journey. But take heart because there is plenty of support out there: you just need to be resourceful, think smart and box clever. ..