The experience economy has changed how businesses create value once again. Rather than physical goods and services, the experience economy emphasizes, as one might expect, experience over everything else. The concept was named in several different publications over the course of the mid to late-1990s, including in an article titled “Welcome to the Experience Economy” in the Harvard Business Review.
B2C leaders in the Experience Economy have set new standards that B2B companies can learn from to further their customers’ experience. Consider the lessons below as you implement Experience practices within your company and product.
Key Features of the Experience Economy
Defined by a more holistic approach to commercial value than that of the industrial economy, the experience economy is comprised of many interconnected elements. There are virtually no limitations to what those elements might be, although location and ambience have been crucial components of the early experience economy. Take the Walt Disney Company, for example. While they sell a very broad range of products, their theme parks sell experiences above all.
Beyond theme parks, themed eateries also use customer experience as a key selling point. Helpful features (such as free wifi) might also be key components of customer experience. All of these elements serve the customers by connecting them with the business somehow, or by fostering an environment wherein participation with the brand is encouraged if not essential.
Why the Experience Economy Exists and the Problems It Addresses
Customers no longer just want good products. They want good experiences. While time-saving used to be the focus of many tangible goods (from the automobile to the microwave oven), time well spent is the new value paradigm. Customers will use a product that solves a small problem and then move on. But experience-based companies lure in business on a repeat basis, as they create a value that customers will seek out again and again.
Coffee used to be regarded as a pretty cheap commodity (and it still is in many different markets). Anybody in the developed world with a coffee maker, access to water, filters and a few other items can have coffee for less than ten cents per cup, and it’s been that way for a long time. But companies like Starbucks and The Coffee Bean have created new ways to consume and enjoy coffee.
The modern corporate coffee establishment has become a place to meet, hang out and even work. Customers are given free wifi access and are treated to a mood and atmosphere that is specific to each brand. And this has allowed these companies to rake in significant profits, as that ten-cent cup of coffee can now go for upwards of a few dollars!
The experience economy isn’t limited to food and beverage or entertainment, either. Digital technology is all about the experience as well. Many companies (especially in the social media sector) are employing new innovations like machine learning in order to customize user experience through data collection. The data gives businesses insight into customer behavior, sentiment and preference that helps them cater to the customer’s wants and needs. The experience economy can be further advanced by the use of Phygital and Mixed Reality Design.
As digital technology becomes more immersive, new opportunities for B2B companies to draw in and maintain customers will emerge. Branding will become multi-dimensional and people will form stronger bonds with the companies that they like. The concept of value is changing, and businesses that learn from B2C companies by embracing the experience economy will thrive in years ahead.