Brand Marketing in the Context of the Experience Economy

Product marketing has become tough in the US: consumers are becoming immune to marketers’ messages as they already possess a lot of must-have products. 78% of US millennials, whose purchasing power is estimated at $1.3 trillion a year, are more willing to spend their money on some life experience or event rather than some product. “Since 1987, the share of consumer spending on live experiences and events relative to total U.S. consumer spending increased 70%,” Eventbrite’s (2013) research shows.

Professors Flemming Sørensen and Jon Sundbo of Roskilde University, Denmark, think that the experience economy is still ‘poorly utilised’. They point out that in many cases its potential to individualize products and services has not been tapped at all. In their opinion, more attention should be paid to co-creation: consumers should be more involved in the process of creating products and services they would like to use. They have their own preferences and requirements for experiences, which directly affect sales. The professors stress that co-creation applies to all branches of the experience economy, even those that do not have ‘immediate experience potential’.   

Ekaterina Walter, a marketing innovator, claims that customer experience should become a point of reference in brand marketing: “Every day consumers are faced with an overwhelming number of choices. And while price and product are still very important differentiators, it is now the customer’s experience that truly sets remarkable companies apart from the rest.” For this reason, it is important to focus on customer experience management (CXM), i.e. to provide customers unforgettable experiences on every company channel. Companies need to reinvent their brands if they want to succeed in a time of intensive networking. “Your brand isn’t your company. It isn’t your marketing message. It isn’t even your product. Your brand is the sum of your customers’ experience at every brand touchpoint,” Walter explains.

Lauren Drell, a staff writer at the American Marketing Association (AMA), believes that CXM is especially challenging on digital channels. She points out some common problems, and suggests possible solutions. For example, she stresses that a digital experience should meet customers’ expectations. Brand marketers need to clearly understand what customers expect and address it in line with their business objectives. Drell refers to the observation of Kerry Bodine, a customer experience coach, that a satisfactory experience cannot be designed without proper research on customer behaviour. Drell also mentions that brand messaging should be consistent across all company channels because customers keep bouncing from one channel to another. If this issue is overlooked, a company will fail to provide a ‘unified customer experience’, as Forrester Research calls it.

David Moricca, Founder and CEO of Mixify, has observed that the experience economy soon will become a norm among leading brands. To highlight its market value, he describes it as “commerce of marketing experiences to create brand affinity, consumer engagement and eventually product sales”. In his opinion, brand success heavily depends on the quality of experience offered to customers. He gives a 3-point recommendation on how to achieve it. First, companies should provide a unique experience to their customers. If it is unique enough, they will be more willing to share it on social media. “Let them do all the marketing work for you,” says Moricca. Second, customers should be invited to participate in a brand experience and be able to easily interact with a company. Third, they need to feel that they belong to a community so they will connect to a brand more easily.

References:  [1] Flemming Sørensen and Jon Sundbo, ScienceNordic / [2] Ekaterina Walter, Inc. / [3] Lauren Drell, American Marketing Association (AMA) / [4] David Moricca, ClubcastLIVE