And the trend continues
Could the future of marketing your products be about the experience? It’s a classic adage, but as people buy less stuff, it will become even more critical.
What are they replacing it with?
Using data aggregated from credit and debit card purchases, Merrill Lynch found a consistent decrease in consumer goods spending by the American population, as reported by Business Insider. It’s a consistent trend across several industries, including home goods, apparel and electronics. By contrast, spending on travel and restaurants increased, in addition to spending on sporting goods.
This is fairly consistent with company performance trends as a whole. According to TIME Money’s analysis of the Merrill Lynch report, spending at department stores – the epicenter of stuff – decreased four percent from the previous year. In another article, they wrote that Americans spend more going out to eat than they do on their monthly grocery bill.
Point being, your customers generally want less stuff and more experiences.
What’s causing this shift? As saving money and paying down debts becomes a more pressing need for Americans (especially of a younger demographic), consumers want to make every entertainment dollar count. Recreational activities can provide a greater return on that for less money, and we remember a vacation or a nice dinner more than our newest iPhone acquisition. Furthermore, in an age where products are ubiquitous (thanks Amazon) and turn over quickly (looking at you, smartphones), the rat race seems eternally unwinnable and, as a result, far less appealing.
So, how can you take advantage?
Customization and customer service can provide great experiences when buying material goods. Find ways to bring consumers into the process of creating a product, and leave them with a smile while they’re a part of it. Consider how your retail experience, both online and offline (see: Apple stores) can set you apart as remarkable.
Your brand is a part of the experience
Certain channels lend themselves better to experiential marketing than others. Instagram and Snapchat are huge for many reasons, and one of them is that they provide an outlet for documenting that experience. Be in those channels.
While you’re there, make sure your message is correct. Don’t make it too complicated; make it memorable and sharable. Finally, focus on how your product makes memories and enriches experiences.