In 1967 the Jimi Hendrix Experience debuted and proved to be not only one of the greatest moments in rock history, but an equally massive commercial success. Rivaling that emergence almost 50 years later, is yet another cultural debut that is transforming our American Dream and commerce experience.
Webster’s definition of “Experience” is, (n):“an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone.” Thanks to the Millennial generation, this definition is being activated as our culture increasingly values good times over goods. This post-materialistic movement now embraces self-expression, belonging, opportunity, environmental awareness, diversity and overall quality of life. No longer pressured by the once-needed, abundant bank account, society is now focused on quality moments with “experience” as the priority.
One unarguable fact is found in our travel habits, where according to a study written by Oxford Economics, forecasts estimate travel to grow by 5.4% annually over the next 10 years, outpacing global GDP. This trend is directly reflected in the growth of hospitality services like AirBnB.com and Couchsurfing.com.
Furthermore, Hotels around the globe are also responding by adding more technological amenities like complementary WIFI, high-speed Internet and iPads in every room. Marriott International, Inc. is now considering Virtual Reality applications such as in-room entertainment and Qantas Airlines is currently in trials with the Samsung VR, available in their first-class lounges.
This, however, is just one segment of the experience trend. The popularity of live venues such as music festivals, performing arts and sporting events are on the rise. Equally trending in creation and consumption is the digital world of gaming, music, apps and social media.
People today don’t just want to experience more, but expect their time to be enjoyable and convenient. Savvy businesses are appropriately evolving in the market to meet that demand. Just take a look at the companies delivering solid consumer experiences and you will find that they are the ones also leading the industry in innovation. And not surprisingly, the headlines showcasing these innovations, all hinge on the experience factor.
The top five for 2015:
2015: Year of the Apple Watch and Amplify Festival
IFTF + Google Innovation Lab for Food Experiences
Brands Know Connection with Millennials Requires Innovation
Samsung Revolutionizes the Viewing Experience With Innovative New SUHD TV
New Tesla battery could take your home off the grid
Retailers that create a memorable consumer experience amplify their brand or product message into a physical and tangible experience; consistently reinforcing the transaction, retention and repetition. This year at the National Retail Federation, “Retail’s Big Show”, the clear message for 2015 was bridging the experience gap in the US. Global markets are on point as well, strongly prioritizing this quotient. However, research from Deloitte, LLP suggests there is a long way to go before the current retail offer matches customer expectations, particularly in the area of digitally enhanced shopping.
We have witnessed some of the most transformative innovations in history and, rightly or wrongly, have come to expect world-changing technology as the norm. One of the biggest oversights today’s companies makes, is innovating without creating a memorable experience. Given the consumer trend of rejecting mere transactions without experience, retailers
should ask themselves a few questions: “In addition to innovation, how do we provide a unique experience?” “What is the experience we provide to our customers?” Or in the words of Jimi Hendrix, “Are You Experienced?”
Customer experience is fast becoming a defining strategy for retailers looking to service connected consumers' needs that of the mobile mindset.
EXPERIENCE OVER TRANSACTION
The focus on customer-centric strategies signals a recognition by the retail market that shoppers are moving away from relationships defined by transactions to ones defined by experiences.
“This experience can take place anywhere at any time, in person, on devices big and small and in wearable technology,” said Pat Bakey, head of retail at SAP. “Retail is about being connected with the customer.”
Although retailers are starting to implement customer-centric strategies to good effect, research from Deloitte suggests there is a long way to go before the current retail offer matches customer expectations, especially around the experience of digital in the shopping journey.
Deloitte found that more than $11 million (or 36 cents on every dollar) of retail sales are influenced by digital – including online and mobile. “Integrating digital into customer experience is a business imperative,” said Alison Kenney Paul, Deloitte’s vice chairman and leader of US retail and distribution. “For those who ignore it, you will be trapped in the digital divide.”
Another good reason to embrace customer experience as a core strategy comes from the threat of commoditisation. The attitude of today’s connected consumers to the products they buy is becoming increasingly commoditised, pushing down prices and profit margins, according to Deloitte’s chief global economist Ira Kalish.
To counteract this, Nespresso is creating a customer experience around its direct order business, which is powered by data and integrated into its CRM (Customer relationship management), marketing, mobile and clienteling systems, with the aim that these areas have a contextual view of the customer across all channels in real time.
Robin Shah, head of Phenix Programme at Nespresso, said: “Our customer is getting more sophisticated, and they have a choice. There are companies making compatible capsules that can be put in our machines – the product we offer can be commoditised, so the experience is where we are looking to differentiate and win.”
The brand’s aim is to enable all its teams, whether they are in stores, the customer relationship centre or a marketing team, to serve up relevant contextual content, offers or assistance to Nespresso Club members, making the experience so effective that members will not want to go anywhere else.
Psycology research suggests that individuals live happier lives if they invest in experiences more than material possessions, and at the same time, communities will have happier citizens if they make available an abundance of experiences to be acquired. Aristotle said centuries ago that “wealth as a whole consists in using things rather than in owning them.
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