Shift to experience

Shift to experience

Why the experience economy and events should be the focus of our economic growth after Covid-19.

In developed nations we have reached peak ‘stuff’.

It is all too easy to order a product from anywhere in the world and have it arrive at your doorstep. There just isn’t as much perceived enjoyment in owning an item as there previously was.

In fact in 2019 it was reported 78 per cent of millennials choose to spend money on a desirable experience over something material, and this trend extends to every age bracket and socioeconomic class.

In the US, consumer spending on live experiences and events has increased by 70 per cent since the 90's and I for one would much rather spend money on holidays, travel, theatre shows and events over another new outfit or to have the latest phone in a world where it's impossible to keep up with developments in technology.

We have also placed a growing importance on sustainability, fast fashion has a bad name and people are turning away from constantly buying new products only to throw away their old ones unnecessarily.

If you are going to receive a gift, would you rather be given something tangible that you may not like and sits in the back of your cupboard for years - or a ticket to something you can enjoy with little waste?

The experience economy is still very much the world we live in, despite the restrictions Covid has put in place on our lives and work. We have been locked down for months now, the experience sectors of the economy have been devastated and the extent to which this affects our economy overall can be seen by the steep decline in productivity outputs.

But we did not give up experiences. As social beings we crave to be around others. Our demand for experiences can still be seen through the current increase in music streaming, Netflix and video sharing. While live experiences are not accessible, we have simply transitioned to digital experiences.

Who else orders off Amazon, not because you necessarily need the product you have purchased - you can probably live without it - but to experience the temporary joy of a new delivery, of opening something new, because we need to find joy in these little moments? The demand is still there, and building every day as we are kept away from the freedom to have live experiences.

We are in the midst of a setback, but live experience will come back because goods and services are not enough to ensure economic prosperity.

We are all waiting for it to be safe enough to bring people back together for an experience - and for the government to realise the importance of supporting this industry and how it will help with long term economic recovery.

However, while we wait we can't sit still and expect everything to be the same as it was when we return. We should be thinking of redesigning our experiences both in terms of safety and attracting the more cautious of us back out.

By preempting and redesigning our experiences in the short term we can ensure we convert the pent-up demand into positive economic growth -and help us all get back on our feet as quickly as possible.

Meet the expert
Rachael Kenny is an ambitious and go-getting event professional who has been in the industry for four years, working both agency and corporate side. She has been a part of the Fast Forward 15 mentoring programme, CN30 under Thirty 2019, The Meetings Show's Tomorrow's Talent 2020 and runs an industry blog

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