Archive for February, 2011

February 22, 2011 – #4

…and now how do marketers monetize our experience economy?

Since the economic implosion, we’ve been talking about what we call “the richer life” as a significant values shift in American life. For many consumers, enjoying the richer life of focusing on experiences rather than material things has been a surprise benefit of a tightened economy.

Now David Brooks describes what he calls “the experience economy” in his New York Times column on February 11th – His key point?

“It could be that the nature of technological change isn’t causing the slowdown but a shift in values. It could be that in an industrial economy people develop a materialist mind-set and believe that improving their income is the same thing as improving their quality of life. But in an affluent information-driven world, people embrace the post materialist mind-set. They realize they can improve their quality of life without actually producing more wealth.”

Brooks cites Tyler Cowen’s e-book, The Great Stagnation, to make the case that “many of this era’s technological breakthroughs produce enormous happiness gains, but surprisingly little additional economic activity.”

Brooks reminds us that much of the consumer attention now is turned toward Facebook, YouTube, iPhone apps…all produced outside the conventional monetized economy, often by people working for free and costing nothing to consume. And as Cowen says in his book, while the automobile industry produced millions of jobs, Facebook employs about 2,000 – indicating the kinds of fundamental change rippling through our economy and society.

With Americans seeking the experiential over the material, the question for marketers is whether your brand or product can become a rich experience informed with the kind of value consumers want now to justify its price.

Business Implications: Material goods – even luxury goods – still matter. But everything is being re-cast in the consumer’s eye within the new context of the richer life experience. (Think Louis Vuitton bags as journey…featuring the likes of the Coppolas or Buzz Aldrin in advertising.) Stay tuned as we launch into 2011 SCAN fieldwork and focus group conversations around the country for more on what consumers want to experience now.

Comments, questions, or just want to discuss this topic? Call or e-mail us anytime.