Evolution of the Experience Economy

Experience Economy

Previous generations sought status in the form of homes, cars and labels, but millennials are trading in a social currency that’s far less tangible. With 72% of millennials saying they would rather spend money on an experience than a material item,[1] the “experience economy” has seen rapid growth, opening up a world of opportunity for both brands and consumers alike.

For some brands, marketing to an experience-focused consumer is a natural fit. Airbnb, the online home rental provider, tapped into this insight with their debut television commercial, encouraging travelers to go beyond visiting a place: “Don’t go there, live there.” Expanding upon this tagline, Airbnb began offering “experiences” in addition to home rentals, through which customers can take classes, go on tours and book other cultural activities that aim to help them explore the city they’re visiting in a more authentic manner.

But a brand doesn’t have to provide tourism and hospitality services to participate in the experience economy. The act of using a product or a service is by definition an interaction, and savvy brands have harnessed that potency to foster a relationship with users. Coca-Cola® honed in on the communal aspect of consuming their product, and the resulting “Share a Coke” campaign launched a cultural zeitgeist, with soda drinkers across the country looking for a bottle bearing their friends’ (or their own) names.

Digital companies, like eyeglass retailer Warby Parker, have revolutionized the e-commerce space by adding interactive elements to the online shopping process. Consumers are sent their preferred styles to test out, which can then be easily purchased; Warby Parker will even reimburse the cost of frame adjustments at any eyeglass retailer. They’ve made the online transaction interactive without physically engaging with the consumer, creating a lasting impression that feels personal—a prime example of how brands can encourage experiences, even if they can’t directly facilitate them.

Another way that brands can make this economy work for them is by creating an interactive engagement adjacent to their product. Casper®, the direct-to-consumer, mattress-in-a-box retailer, recently launched a brick-and-mortar destination called The Dreamery, at which they literally sell the act of sleep: for $25, consumers can take a 45-minute nap on a Casper® mattress. Not just a novelty for sleepy passersby, it also serves as a creative way for potential customers to take the mattress for a test-run—something that Casper already provides to anyone who buys one of their mattresses in the form of a 100-night, risk-free trial. By turning the act of sleeping into a commodified service, Casper® has essentially created a new product category, one in which it is uniquely situated to flourish.

So, if millennial consumers have demonstrated that they will connect with brands that understand their desire for the personal and ephemeral, what experience will you create for your brand? The end-game of creating these interactions is not just to sell more product: it’s to create a lasting relationship with the consumer.

[1] http://eventbrite-s3.s3.amazonaws.com/marketing/Millennials_Research/Gen_PR_Final.pdf

Summer Camp for Grownups—So Much More Than S’mores


Americans live hard: a 60-hour workweek, a mortgage, car payments. Even if you’re driven and love what you do, grown-up life can drain the batteries.

Which is why summer camps for adults started springing up over the last decade. The weekend or week-long sleep away camps—with bonfires, ballads, beers and burgers—offer a good dose of nostalgia and a break from the daily grind

But now we see that goals for adult weekends (or weeks) away are changing: it’s no longer about escape from the life we live—it’s about enhancement of the life we love. Summer camps are expanding into opportunities for adults to explore other interests that their busy lives haven’t allowed: Formula One driving workshops, Life of a Zookeeper experiences and Cocktail Mixology camps are but a few of the ways we can cultivate our passions

We anticipate that forward-thinking brands will push this model further, creating immersive adventures to reveal their business identities with their target and growing their consumer into educated product evangelists who share their enthusiasm widely. Experiences will be manifested in the form of photos, social media interaction, personal blog posts, and enthusiastic stories that get shared over and over at business luncheons, weekend conferences and keynote speeches.

Marketers looking for new and innovative ways to develop not just large numbers of consumers, but passionately motivated members of an “extended marketing family,” would do well to “take it to camp,” and envision an adventure that benefits both the time-crunched consumer and the brand.

A Taste of Spain


Tempted to take your tastebuds on a tour of Spain, but can’t pack your bags and hop a last minute flight? Well, you’re in luck. New York City has a growing number of exquisitely authentic Spanish-style restaurants, sure to please even the most gourmet foodies. Two restaurants in particular, Toro and Txikito, both located in Chelsea, boast a scrumptious selection of tapas and Spanish-inspired craft cocktails to accompany your authentic meal. Muy delicioso!

‘Tis The Season: Restaurant Week


It’s the most wonderful time of the year—at least for foodies in NYC. Restaurant Week is upon us yet again, offering 18 calorie-filled days of the city’s finest dining experiences at a fixed price that makes our wallets and taste buds equally happy. With over 290 restaurants to choose from, you can enjoy a 3-course meal for lunch ($25) or dinner ($35). Happy dining!

Snowy Day Activities


After storm “Hercules,” we’re looking to beef up our Netflix cue. The good news is that Netflix just added tons of new movies (after they also removed quite a few on January 1). These include classics like “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”, TV shows such as “Dexter” (seasons 5-8) and of course, many titles we’ve never even heard of. You can find the full list here.

Cheers to staying entertained while seeking indoor refuge from the polar vortex!

Beer, Bourbon & BBQ


We think it’s totally okay to put your New Year’s diet resolutions aside for just one day—as long as you make that day REALLY count. Thankfully, the Beer, Bourbon & BBQ Festival is coming to NYC just in time. On January 25th, the festival will make its 5th annual appearance in town and will be bringing the two other B’s—bacon and bluegrass—along with it. If you’re gonna have a cheat day, this is an opportunity not to be missed. Comment with your favorite BBQ spots in NYC!

Bud Light Floating Hotel to Set Sail Super Bowl Weekend


Though the Super Bowl will be held in New Jersey at the Meadowlands at MetLife Stadium, The Bud Light Hotel New York will take over a Norwegian Cruise Line ship and will be docked at Pier 88 in Manhattan on the Hudson River over Super Bowl weekend (January 30 – February 2). The floating hotel will offer lodging for 4,000 guests, though it is not open to the public. Bud Light Hotel will also take over the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, where Bud Light plans to construct heated venues to host concerts and parties. (Heated being the key word.)

Netflix—Still #Winning


Some major cable companies are talking with Netflix about making it available like any other channel. This just goes to show that traditional cable companies have to get with the times or be left behind. The move will benefit those with both cable and Netflix—no more switching between TV settings, which makes being a couch potato even easier! Pass the remote.

Couch Potato Season


Entertainment Weekly‘s Fall TV Guide is out, which means the time has come to decide which new shows to try out, and to add old favorites back onto the DVR. Their top six new shows to watch include a Showtime series called “Masters of Sex” and an Andy Samberg detective show called “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” among many other interesting picks—good thing alfresco happy hour season is wrapping up!