We live in a digitally focused world that craves experiences. Just think for a minute about your own day so far.
If you’re like most of us, you started your day with a news feed of stories and video clips curated by an algorithm that knows you better than you know yourself. Next, you probably checked your weather app to see real-time satellite images of the weather for your zip code. After that, you might have hopped in your car once it adjusted your seat to your personal settings and started your favorite podcast where you last left off. That feeling of control and customization is what we call having an experience.
Welcome to the “Experience Economy,” the next phase of the business economy marked by consumers’ attraction to experiences over things, where brands need to create meaningful experiences that bring their value proposition to life. John Pine and James Gilmore first coined this phrase in 1998 in their Harvard Business Review article by the same title.
Experiences create stronger emotional ties to brands and those emotional ties create personal bonds. Those personal bonds translate to customer loyalty and increased spend. Recent studies by polling company IBOPE/Zogby International have shed additional light on this experiential movement citing that consumers are willing to spend 83% more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. And 60% of consumers are willing to switch brands if they have a better customer service experience. Ultimately, a consumer’s perception of a brand is shaped by all the experiences they have with that brand across their entire customer journey.
To ensure your brand’s marketing efforts are equipped for success in the new Experience Economy, consider these five tips:
1. Make it personal: Harness the power of customer data to create personalized experiences with your customers that match their interests and interactions with your brand and category. For example, when you place a Starbucks order using their app, it remembers your last order and asks if you’d like the same drink again, replicating the personalized in-store experience the brand is so famous for. Make sure the personalization adds value to the relationship and brings attention to your core value proposition. When in doubt, ask your customers how you can make their relationship with your brand more relevant. They’ll appreciate you asking, and if they don’t answer, you’ve got bigger problems.
2. Foster engagement: Experiences aren’t passive—by definition they require engagement between the brand and the consumer. Find ways to engage with your customers that highlight your point of difference and enable you to learn more about them to ensure the next engagement is even more powerful. And if that experience is shareable, all the better! For example, Ikea introduced augmented reality capabilities to their print catalog that enabled consumers to visualize products in their home, thus boosting sales and leaving a trail of data.
3. Become a customer and audit your own customer experience: You may be surprised to discover the difference in what you’ve orchestrated the customer experience to be and what it actually is. Become a “secret shopper” and experience your brand across all your consumer touch points. Objectively document the journey and then create initiatives to improve any facets of the experience that are less than ideal.
4. Think omni-channel: You can’t orchestrate a holistic experience with your brand if you only think—or act—in one dimension. Today’s consumers move seamlessly from on-line channels to off-line channels all the while seeking the opinions of their entire social media universe. The lines are blurred and your brand needs to have a presence across all of these touch points—and it needs to be a seamless experience.
5. Have a conversation: No one wants to be talked to—or worse yet ignored. We all want to engage in a healthy, balanced conversation. Your brand needs to have a point of view, but it also needs to understand how it fits into the life and culture of your consumers. So talk about it with them and be willing to respond and change as the open and transparent dialogue dictates.
Bottom line, the Experience Economy is here to stay and has a very real impact on our culture, and on how consumers perceive your brand and marketing efforts. Tapping into this movement and implementing an experiential marketing model will ensure your brand and marketing efforts are not only embraced, but also shared.
Long live the experience!