The Experience Economy and How to Win It

Today’s consumers put more value on experiences than on material possessions. Seventy-four percent of Americans would rather spend money on something to do than something to own. And while millennials often make headlines for this behavior, it is a trend across all generations.

The Sonoma County Economic Development Board recently released their 2019 Retail Report, in which they offer keys for success in the current economic environment. One of the concepts they focus on in the report is the “Experience Economy” – this modern shift in focus from having to doing, from possession to experience, among consumers.

Why Small Businesses Will Win at Experience

One of the most valuable qualities in consumers is brand loyalty. Brand loyalty comes when customers develop an emotional connection to your business, and nothing develops emotional connections quite like a good experience.

In good news for local retailers everywhere, experience is an area where traditional brick and mortar businesses actually have an advantage over big box and online retailers. With a physical space comes the opportunity for an encompassing experience, 360 degrees of visual and auditory input for customers as well as smells, tactile interactions and more.

What does this mean for your local business? It means that you have a pool of potential customers who want the very thing that will make them into super-customers, and you have the means to give it to them. You can out-perform huge discount retailers and online stores without having to out-spend them, because you have the advantage where it matters.

The Integrated Consumer Experience

We’d like to propose a concept – call it the integrated experience.

When you engage all of a consumer’s senses, show up frequently in their daily routines and meet them on multiple channels, you exponentially multiply your chances to draw them in and retain them as loyal customers.

What do we mean?

Take radio, for example. Many folks still listen to radio in the car – and in the Bay Area that’s an average 45 minute commute each day, just for starters. When you advertise on the radio, you are using a channel to engage with drivers and passengers on an auditory level as part of a positive, daily routine

Easy as 1-2-3

Now add another channel. Imagine that your driver (let’s call her Jill) arrives at work, where she boots up her computer (a routine) and views (a second sense) your digital ad on the internet (channel #2). 

If you are purposeful about the integrated experience, your audio and visual ads can dovetail into a recognizably connected experience, enhancing each other.

You’ve already approached Jill twice with your message, and it’s only 9:15 a.m.

Two channels, two senses, two daily routines – and your business was there the whole time.

What if Jill also saw your ad on her mobile phone during lunch break? What if she double-tapped on your Instagram post when she was relaxing at home that evening? What if she went out for drinks with friends and heard your ad again on the radio there?

What if, when Jill visited your physical location, she entered a full-on experience that was a continuation of everything she had already encountered? The same voices and concepts from the radio ads, with colors and lines reminiscent of your digital presence, evocative smells, the opportunity to touch and interact with products, and abundant invitations to join you for physical or online events, to share her experience online and in person and to add her own unique contributions to the overall experience.

Because that’s what you’ve built – not a store or an office, but an integrated experience.

Go Get ‘Em

That experience is not something you can find on a giant website named after a South American river.

Our takeaway: you don’t need to compete with the big dogs on price when you are operating on a whole different level.

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