Experience or Bust?

This week’s announcement of Stone Brewing opening a hotel that offers guests a complete craft beer experience has me thinking about the booming experience economy. At the hotel, guests will be treated with a complementary beer and will fill their pints throughout their stay with various Stone beers on tap, including special releases and unique casks. Guests will not only have access to typical hotel amenities like room service, but will also be treated to in-room growler delivery service. Experiential marketing is not new, but the idea of making an immersive and permanent vacation-like experience is a relatively new iteration of it. The move highlights that experience, above all else, is the means to affinity.

As trail blazers in the experience economy, more than three in four Millennials prefer to spend their money on an experience or an event instead of buying something tangible (Forbes, 2015). And this trend isn’t just a Millennial one. Consumer spending on experiences relative to total US consumer spending has increased by 70% in the last 20 years (Forbes, 2015).

One of the most compelling reasons I’ve read for this growth in experience over ownership is the idea of scarcity. In the always on, fluid channel world we live in, owning something is less compelling because it’s less hard to do. There is less scarcity in ownership because we can find and own anything within a click of a button.

What does this mean for retail where the ultimate goal is ownership? In store, brands are now, more than ever, forced to come out of their shells and create immersive experiences if they want to continue to be added to the cart. In addition, brick-and-mortar retailers must continue to look for ways to enhance shopping, making it less of an errand while creating the social, sharable and unique experiences that consumers crave. Who knows, maybe eventually we’ll see a whole branded hospitality trend emerge with mountain-top Coors Hotel or a Snickers Always-Satisfied vacation package.How do you see retail evolving in the next 5 years as the result of the experience economy?

Image Source: PSFK.com