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!
Clare Pope, always has her head in a book - current read Gathering Storm by Rachel Hore