The rise of the experience economy
Leverage the Happiness Halo
The areas in which we’re spending has shifted. A huge change in consumer behaviour is under way, from buying things to doing things – resulting in the budding experience economy. Average household spending on recreation and culture is now nearly £70 per week.
Over the past decade, an abundance of psychology research has shown that experiences bring people more, and longer-lasting, happiness than possessions. This is because happiness is as much about how we look forward to, and back on, an event as it is about the event itself - something Lippincott calls “the happiness halo.”
Stores are seeing a resurgence as high street retailing becomes an immersive, high-tech experience combining shopping with leisure and entertainment.
“The benefits of making the in-store shopping trip a unique and engaging experience are plentiful. Stores are becoming leisure destinations, as much about engagement and excitement as making product inventory available.”
- Eric Fergusson, director of retail services at eCommera
Brand example: Selfridges' Shakespeare Refashioned
Selfridges has partnered with a host of designers, musicians and renowned British drama schools as part of a storewide campaign marking 400 years since Shakespeare’s death. Windows recreate scenes from the playwright’s works and feature specially created clothing which can be bought in-store.
The first phase, or Act I, of the window campaign features garments inspired by some of Shakespeare’s most famous comedies and romances, including A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet, while for the second phase, or Act II, clothing by designers such as Rick Owens, Givenchy and Gareth Pugh will be featured, inspired by his tragedies.
A theatre has also been set up inside Selfridges, where Much Ado About Nothing will be staged, and acting lessons offered.
A desire for discovery and adventure
Help visitors realise their inner child
Research is increasingly saying we should be spending less time working and more time playing – play de-stresses us, it refreshes us and restores our optimism.
Young adults are drinking less and taking fewer drugs - just one in 50 young adults describe themselves as a frequent drinker. Instead we get excited by the Great British Bake Off, adult ball pools and mindfulness achieved through grown-up colouring. Like other activities we might associate with our childhoods, these things are safe, they’re playful and they carry a kind of nostalgic charm.
(Natural cosmetics retailer) Lush’s best-selling Fun & Games party involves friends competing against each other in a series of high-energy activities involving their most fun products. Games are tailor-made following a consultation so that those new to Lush will discover and learn about product ranges through play, and the more seasoned Lush fans can show off their knowledge in treasure hunts and quizzes.
With a renewed focus on living for the moment, consumers are looking for time to relax and have more fun. There is growing demand for brands that are visual, playful, fun and bold, brands that help us realise our inner child.
Brand example: LEGO + Lagers
Toronto's Gladstone Hotel is hosting a unique event called 'LEGO + Lagers' that gives adults a chance to let their imagination run wild. Those interested in participating can simply grab a pint from the bar and choose their favourite box of LEGO. There are LEGO sets for making everything from castles to UFOs, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to get creative.
Play to niche interests
As people have become increasingly diverse in their cultural consumption, tiny communities of individuals who all share an equally eclectic range of interests, passions and values have been created. Kids particularly have more access to more culture at a younger age than ever before, and exposure to digital means that they’re starting to carve individual tastes and create different identities at ever younger ages, way before their teens.
Where once you had to join a local club or know somebody with the same interest as you, people can now connect with others at the click of a mouse. And because you can find others who share your interests, ‘weird’ is becoming the new normal and is celebrated - at least in the small groups we’re creating.
Meetup is the world's largest network of local groups and makes it easy for anyone to organise a local group or find one of the thousands already meeting up face-to-face - more than 9,000 groups get together in local communities each day.
In today’s world, where time is the scarcest resource of all, consumers that spend time and effort mastering a unique interest or skill not only build their self-esteem, they also gain status for their achievements. And the more time they spend honing their skills, the deeper their connection with the brands that taught them. Consumers now seek a deeper, lasting and personal impact from purchases.
Brand example: Allotment of the Future
Allotment of the Future gives visitors the opportunity to learn about future food sources, how to make insects taste good, how to ferment ingredients and much more. Workshops on growing crops from used coffee grounds, and growing plants completely without soil are on offer. Sections of the allotment are devoted urban growing, soil health, technology and climate change, and chefs are on site on a number of days running various sessions.
Tapping into locality and the social good
Play to the heritage or culture of a local area
Today’s world is increasingly interconnected as growing Internet access, travel and trade accelerate the exchange of ideas, information, people and products. But with globalisation comes an opposite reaction.
“In a globalised world, there will inevitably be many similar trends across the globe. And these in turn will generate opposition in the form of localisation, as people try to assert their own identity, which is only natural. In order to do business anywhere, we need to have a firm grasp of what it means to be global and what it means to be local.”
- Tadashi Yanai, chief executive of Fast Retailing
Embracing local uniqueness, some brands are incorporating community-focused concepts, philanthropic initiatives and locally attuned design into their retail formats – demonstrating an affinity with local needs and cultural patterns.
Brand example: Amsterdam Denim Days
As Europe’s premier indigo purveyor, Amsterdam has been living up to its name through its annual denim programme ‘Amsterdam Denim Days‘. Each year in spring, the city plays host to a series of denim-related events for fashion-forward fans of denim. Professionals from the denim industry and all denim enthusiasts get together for a week-long celebration of industry fairs, city centre retail events as well as a two day denim show dedicated to jeans culture.
Help customers contribute to the greater good
Transparency, sustainability, and a purpose beyond profit are more than popular catchphrases. They’re now bottom-line expectations for how larger businesses and brands are expected to operate. According to a recent study, 73% of consumers believe brands have a responsibility to do more than just generate a profit.
People around the globe are hungry for socio-political change and believe that businesses actually bear as much responsibility as governments for driving this positive change.
We as people find personal wellbeing in having meaning and purpose in life, and by contributing to a greater good. People are becoming fed up with perceived inactivity from governments and frustrated at formal avenues of support. Spurred on by social media, many are linking up with like-minded others to make things happen. Whether it’s taking part in the ice-bucket challenge or offering refugees a lift across the border, there is a real sense of people at the grassroots taking matters into their collective hands. And doing good together feels good.
Brand example: Ted Baker & Carlsberg's Movember
A recent Carlsberg Ted Baker event celebrated the end of Movember with a festive communal shave-off. The event served as a valuable in-store experience for Ted Baker’s Grooming Rooms, and promoted Carlberg's new line of beer-infused men's grooming products.
Normally, a shave and complimentary beer would cost almost £25, but during the special event, customers could book an appointment for the package that only cost them 99p.
The proceeds from the shave-off benefited Movember and the event showcased the opportunity for brand's to introduce products or services in a way that educates consumers and provide hands-on product interaction.