Prior to 2020, the experience economy appeared to be booming. In the US, sales of spectator events, amusement parks, restaurants and travelling grew much faster during the 2010s than those of goods, while the UK was similarly successful in this respect.
People spent generously to make memories – witness the recent trend for attending festivals based around favourite TV shows such as Friends.
If you operate in the retail sector you'll have been constantly told that 'service' is what differentiates your company from your competitor.
In today's modern world if your company has a big customer service team who are kept busy it's probably because you're neglecting the one thing that makes us all choose one brand/company over another.
That one thing is 'how does this make me feel' - this is my emotional reaction to you.
It has a huge impact on our future (or not) relationship - it's what I call an outside in point of view because it's driven by the customer, not an internalised (inside out) view which is driven by the brand/company.
Or put in business speak - "what did I just experience".
When was the last time the entire leadership team was tasked to go and 'experience ' your brand/company promise. What I mean by that is how often do you truly look to experience what your customers experience about your company and seek out those moments of truth or failure?
Far too many companies settle for a 'good enough' experience, as a result leadership teams tend to distance themselves from this aspect of retail, especially in eCommerce land.
I can give lots of examples where the 'feel good' relationship dial was moved forwards in a sustainable way simply because leadership were constantly engaged and led the way with this approach.
They say we are all customers of someone else's business and this is very true, particularly when we subconsciously experience that company in a positive or negative way.
Today a 'positive experience' is the least expected by consumers because after all isn't that what you promised?
Consumers (you/me) don't think in linear process terms like companies and brands tend to do.
We can have a great process but if the overall 'experience' doesn't live up to what your shiny intrusive adverts promised me then next time I'll go elsewhere, and today the chances are I'll probably share those thoughts on social media.
Millennials seemed to particularly prioritise memorable experiences over buying things, documenting it all via social media. But then, of course, came COVID-19. A July report from PwC found that accommodation and food were the worst hit service sectors in the UK, followed by arts, entertainment and recreation.
Memorable experiences are about triggering sensations. People remember feeling excited by an adrenaline rush, such as riding a rollercoaster. For example, research on theme parks suggests that to be successful, they must heighten the thrill that visitors expect. link below
Let's be honest with ourselves, retail adopted the homogenisation and the blandness of 'corporate multiple retailing' long before the internet and Covid kicked it in the balls.
Add to this the constant pressure on rising cost, the not very environmentally friendly splurge of fast fashion, overt commoditisation of the brand, and a simple lack of 'retail theatre' all round has led to this opportunity to re-invent what was.
I was once working with an extremely disruptive business who had invented the industry term 'Re-Commerce'.
These were the people who bought your old CD's, DVD's, Games, and now tech products, the model was to refurbish them and then sell them via every marketplace (Amazon, eBay etc) as a result they became the largest 3rd party seller on all these marketplaces around the world - to my knowledge they still are.
A critical piece of the transformation jigsaw that saw the real boom in the business was being able to take an existing and consumer focused time consuming process and massively over simplify it for the consumer.
This innovation didn't just move the conversion needle from an average of 3% to a staggering consistent 19% and it literally transformed the company.
To do this we obsessed about how we can persuade you to 'sell' more of your unwanted media in a way that was 'Surprisingly Easy' - this was our internally aligned focus, it was the direction that everyone inside and outside the company could understand, why? - because it was 'consumer centric' and the whole company was obsessive about the customer experience at every step of the way.
Once we had done this it became a strong filter for future innovations.
Do you have a healthy obsession in your leadership team based on regularly 'experiencing' your brand just like you expect your customers to do?
It is therefore unsurprising that we will seek out things which support our online performances. Fast-growing sectors provide opportunities for consumers to enhance their appearance, such as tattoo parlours or fitness. Meanwhile, the outlet for all of these performances, social media, grows rapidly.