Customers seek experiences not products
It’s that time of year again when many of us are stuck for ideas for Christmas gifts to buy our friends and family. Many people this Christmas will give and receive ‘experience gifts’ in the form of concert tickets, theatre tickets, short breaks, spa days and so on. It seems that we’re no longer content to have the material possessions we once were, instead we now crave new and exciting experiences.
In fact, this is the premise behind the term ‘experience economy’ which many commentators feel is a phase we have now entered. Its thought to be an age where our material needs are more commonly satisfied and instead of upgrading our gadgets we’re increasingly seeking to spend our money on the experiences offered by hotels, coffee shops and so on. Retailers are increasingly coming to terms with the notion that the experience of shopping is slightly more important than the items we buy and take home with us.
The experience economy brings with it a strong need for companies to truly understand their customers wider goals. It’s no longer enough for a company to anticipate and deliver the products people want, instead they must understand the wider goals customers have such as the need to belong to a group, the need for status, and the need for personal growth to name just a few. Those companies who truly understand their customer’s needs and offer experiences which generate an emotional connection between the customer and the brand are going to be the leaders of this new age. Apple, Starbucks, Innocent, Abel and Cole are just a few of the stand out companies who seem to be doing this and they are leaving their competition standing.
In the experience economy, where many customers appear to be seeking meaning and self actualisation in their lives, does your company really understand how to offer an emotional connection with your customers?
About Damian Rees
Damian has worked as a usability and user experience consultant for over 13 years. He has worked in senior roles within companies like the BBC and National Air Traffic Services where he has researched and designed for users in a variety of different contexts including web applications, voice recognition, and air traffic control interfaces. Follow Damian on twitter @damianrees