Monday, September 12

Marketing Shift: Consumers Want Experiences

Although conducted in the United Kingdom, a recent survey from Experian CreditExpert captures a sentiment in the United States too. When men and women in their 40s or 50s are asked what dream they want to fulfill, they aren't choosing extravagant purchases like sports cars, designer clothing, or cosmetic makeovers. They're giving answers more aligned with what the Futures Company called a Darwinian Gale.

• 70 percent said that they would like to travel the world
• 46 percent said that they would like to learn new things
• 29 percent said that they would like a full-time hobby

Only about one in ten confined their answers to the proverbial middle aged crisis stereotypical answers like cosmetic surgery (13 percent women; 3 percent men). No one listed purchasing a new sports car. And designer clothes were not part of the equation. In short, material possessions have fallen off the bucket list.

Consumers want life-changing and self-affirming experiences. Does your marketing measure up?

The study affirms consumer advertising observations from a week ago, at least in so far as the middle aged consumer is concerned. The survey reveals men place work-life balance as a top priority (to presumably seek new life experiences); women want new life experiences as a top priority.

That is not to say that having the monetary means to fulfill their goals is being discounted. About three-quarters of those surveyed felt that their financial situation was the only thing holding them from realizing their dreams. Sixty-nine percent said a sudden windfall is all it would take for them to begin making life changes, including making new friends or changing their careers.

But that is not the only change. It seems people are thinking of these dreams more often. A recent USA Today poll found more than 34 percent of the population is thinking of their goals on a daily basis; 26 percent weekly; 17 percent monthly. Only 21 percent are thinking of their goals rarely or never.

What's really holding consumers back from realizing life-changing and self-affirming experiences? It might be your marketing message.

Is it any wonder that software, books, and videos are among the highest selling products on the Internet (26 percent). Airline tickets and hotel reservations are second (21 percent). Consumer electronics and hardware are third (16 percent). Or that Kindles, iPads, acupressure mats, and two specific movies (Avatar and Inception) made up the top five best-selling products on Amazon. Or that SAS, Boston Consulting Group, Wegmans Food Markets, and NetApp (listed among the top five places to work) all have customer experience-centric offerings along with an equally strong internal brand alignment.

Not really. Don't sell lipstick, sell the places you can wear it. Don't sell apps, sell what they can do. Don't sell the price, sell the experience. Don't sell a network, sell the strength of the connections. Don't sell cars, sell where you can take them. Don't sell the salary, sell the vision, camaraderie, and security.
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