The Experience Economy by Pine & Gilmore

The reading.

“Those which thrive will do so because they treat their economic offering as a rich experience, not a glorified good or celebrated service, staged in a way that engages the individual and leaves behind a memory.”

I agree with the author: no you can’t equate experience with entertainment. Experience is multifaceted and memorable, so brands or services that strive only to entertain will exist as a fad. This brought to mind the great shift that we are seeing in retail environments that (I hope) will change the way we shop forever. There is a shift from cluttered stores with many brands and flashy, competitive packaging, to two types of stores: Experiences and Depots. An experience store treats selling as a trusted result of the quality that the brand experience conveys. A depot is a store for items you need here and now. If you need toilet paper now, you aren’t going to check online for the best price and buy from that retailer. But that new TV? Too bad Mr. Best Buy salesman- I just bought off of Amazon while standing INSIDE your store. Consumers need the retail environment to view products in the flesh and the internet to bring them the best deal.

So if the experience store is successful it needs to be immersive. The author talks about absorption vs. immersion. Absorption occupies a person’s attention, but immersion requires the participant to go into and include them self in the experience.

Elements of an experience:

  • Entertainment- The user passively enjoy favorable content- he doesn’t need to interact. ex: jokes, movies
  • Education – must involve the active participation of the user. Interactive learners is the new education model. Bamboola.
  • Escape- The experience requires not only participation of the user but a willingness to forget the content of their normal lives to act as someone or something else.
  • Estheticism- putting yourself in an immersive experience that does not interact with you. Themed restaurants and immersive interior design like museums. “We are selling an experience”

The Samsung experience hits all of the criteria above. Within the retail-like environment, the experiencer sits in small spaces the size of typical New York living rooms to watch a movie or play a video game while testing the Samsung products. The experience entertains by offering the games and content for viewing on the screens, and educates by presenting exploded models of the samsung technology- in this case a television- to educate the customer on how the TV works and why Samsung is world class. The experience is an escape from the busy shopping mall putting the customer in an immersive environment with interior design that is not only classy but perfectly reflects the quality and aesthetic of the Samsung brand. And when you want to buy? They direct you to a computer where you can order online. No products are sold in the “store.”

Recently we have seen advancements in the depot type store as well- here and now can happen online with The Amazon locker. This flips the experience store concept from experience in store and deliver at home to discover at home and acquire in store. Users browse the internet to find the best product and price, then pick up the pre-purchased product in the real world (inside the locker.) It works well- get the best price online, and instant access to it in the retail location. If companies want salespeople to spend less time with each transaction, it should be because transactional interactions aren’t an experience. (and not because they want to cut costs) Hopefully they will use their valuable employees to create an immersive experience in the retail space and leave the money tracking to the internet.


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