Marketing To Consumers Who Want Experiences, Not “Stuff”

Posted by: Stoner Bunting 08/19/2015


Brian Schultz, co‐founder and chief experience officer at the New York City-based agency Magnetic, recently wrote an article for Advertising Age titled “Not Just Millennials: Consumers Want Experiences, Not Things.” The article offers an overview of the enormous shift that our society is currently undergoing when it comes to how and where we spend our money. We absolutely still love our “things,” and we certainly enjoy spending money on clothing, personal items and random accessories at Home Goods, but we as a society, across all ages and income levels, are increasingly spending money on experiences….and memorable ones at that.


The Science Behind The Increase

Schultz writes, “various psychological studies are showing that all people — not just millennials — are happier when their money is spent on living, rather than on having. Mintel’s 2015 American Lifestyles report projects that over the next five years, total spending will grow by nearly 22%, with the so‐called “non‐essential” categories, including vacations and dining out, expected to see the greatest gains.”

Additionally, these same experiences are what many people choose to share across a plethora of social channels. We Instagram our favorite dishes at restaurants, update our Twitter followers on our travel plans, and share Facebook status updates about sporting events, concerts, and festivals. We love our experiences in life, but it almost seems like some of us love sharing them more than taking part in them. Seriously…the last time you were at a concert, how many people had their phones held up in front of their face, videotaping the entire performance?


So What Does This Mean?

In order to capture the attention of these movers, shakers, videographers, photographers and constant sharers, marketers and advertisers like us need to stay on top of the changes in consumer behavior, and develop experiential marketing efforts that creative powerful and lasting bonds between consumers and brands. The same thing goes for business-to-business and trade relationships, as we are tasked with capturing the attention of designers, architects and others who must build and create spaces that provide harmonious living and working experiences.

Below are three rules that Schultz shared in his article for successfully capturing the attention of these individuals. We dig them, and we think you will too:

1. You don’t need to create large‐scale, complex experiences. If done right, small experiences can create truly sticky content. If executed properly, and documented well, your brand experience will drive your consumers and the press to tell your story better, and more authentically. The recent Converse Chuck 2 campaign demonstrated how a shoe that has not changed in years was inspired by the way the product was organically behaving on social media, thanks to its loyal consumers.

2. Don’t overuse technology. If users can’t share it from their phone on a social medium they already use, you are probably overthinking it. And overcomplicating it for them. Never a good thing.

3. Don’t believe the hype around why certain retailers had a flat quarter. It doesn’t signal that consumer confidence levels are waning or that humans have less discretionary spending. It merely points to a culture that is starting to spend time and money differently. What would you prefer, a brand new TV or a trip to Cuba? Yep, me too. Consumer‐centric culture means act human — you know, the way your consumers behave. And that requires understanding that they are willing to spend, sometimes more than something is worth, if they value the experience as an overall part of the product.