In recent years there has been a behavioral shift in the developed world. If the 80s and 90s were decades of rampant consumerism, times when shopping centers flourished and cities and public spaces expanded their shopping areas to cope with demand, the 2010s is the decade of “hunger for experiences”.
This is particularly true for the so-called “millennial” generation, born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s (dates differ depending on your source), so we’re talking about people ranging in age from around 15-35.
Taylor Smith, CEO and co-founder of Blueboard, a company that specializes in employee “experience” rewards,
told CNBC that millennials “aren’t spending our money on cars, TVs and watches. We’re renting scooters and touring Vietnam, rocking out at music festivals, or hiking Machu Picchu.” In essence, the millennial generation is more interested in experiences than “things”.
Research backs this up, too. A study conducted by the Harris Group for online event software, Eventbrite, revealed that millennials “not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them” and that 72 percent of millennials prefer to spend more money on experiences than on material things.
It’s not just millennials who value experiences over things
Several studies show that we’re a society in pursuit of happiness and that all generations are turning to experiences to make them happy as opposed to things. We want to feel more connected to one another and a shared experience makes that happen, whereas shared consumption forms less of a connection.
Speaking to Fast Company, Dr. Thomas Gilovich, who has been studying the question of money and happiness for over 2 decades said, “We consume experiences directly with other people and after they’re gone, they’re part of the stories that we tell to one another.”
Gilovich’s findings indicate that we’re valuing experiences more than “things” because they make us happier. And his findings aren’t limited to millennials: his findings are true for millennials and non-millennials alike.
What’s the retail sector to do?
This shift from wanting to consume to wanting new – and shared – experiences places anyone in the retail sector in a difficult position. How can they attract visitors if visitors are no longer interested in shopping or “retail therapy”, beyond the need to buy what’s needed and leave?
This problem is one that faces shopping centers and malls, shopping districts in cities, high streets, railway arcades – anywhere where businesses want to sell goods.
The answer is that businesses need to adapt their sales and marketing strategies and offer experiences that attract and engage visitors that will:
- Allow people to make memories
- Make people feel more connected to each other; and
- in the case of younger generations, experiences that can easily be shared on social media
How to offer experiences
There are numerous ways in which the retail sector can build sales and marketing strategies around experiences. In our view, the easiest way to develop an experience-based offering is to incorporate experience lighting into a space.
Not only can lighting be custom-designed to fit your space but when done correctly, it can create an atmosphere that attracts visitors, that taps into their emotions, and helps them create memories with others that they can share on social media at the click of a button.
The craving for experiences isn’t going away anytime soon
Research shows that the craving for experiences as opposed to “buying things” is increasing across generations. We’re creating new societal values, new cultural norms that children of today will embrace and when they become consumers in their own right, they are likely to choose experiences over product consumption, too.Retailers who refuse to adapt may find that the future is fraught with challenges.
If you’re a forward-thinker and you want to explore how lighting can help you deliver the experiences that your audience craves so that you can increase foot traffic and boost revenues, get in touch with us for a conversation and to explore opportunities and ideas.