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Living in an “Experience” World

The spending habits of the U.S. consumer is changing as millennials enter the work force and their wallets grow. Purchases and gifting of experiences versus “things” is growing rapidly. Research by Eventbrite of millennials (defined by them as Americans born between 1980 to 1996, although definitions vary depending on the source) revealed that 78% of millennials would rather spend money on an experience or event versus a material good. And 72% said they would prefer to increase spending on experiences versus tangible items in the coming year.

It’s not just millennials either

Research by StubHub bears this out, and not just for millennials. The company surveyed over 2,000 people in key U.S. and global markets and respondents universally choose a live event as one of the top three best gifts to give and receive. We are also more likely to rank our first concert among our top memories (along with first job and first kiss, arguably also experience-based).

Retailers have taken note

In an age when Amazon is there to fulfill almost one’s every consumer wish, retailers are finding ways to add the element of experience to shopping. Apple and Microsoft, not surprisingly, have been pioneers at creating an interactive in-store experience, with demonstrations, products to try out and classes to help users take advantage of all their devices have to offer. Sephora will let you try out makeup, hair and perfume products and even give you a makeover. Kitchen goods companies such as Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma have cooking classes and demonstrations in store. And Sur La Table even offers Sur La Table At Home, where a chef will prepare a personalized meal for you and your friends at home.

A “better” customer journey

So, what does this mean for financial institutions? In a world of commoditization, those that can offer an enhanced experience that better aligns with customer preferences will be the winners. Depending, however, on a physical bricks and mortar experience alone, even at the highest level of wealth, will no longer suffice. Leveraging the ability to recognize and proactively respond to the most nuanced of customer needs and interests, financial and non-financial, regardless of how an organization is interacting with a client can help your organization stand out in a crowded marketplace. And maybe even provide that memorable experience they’ll never forget and always associate with you.