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Is it just me or is time flying by? It seems to go quicker than ever as we strive for newer, shinier, faster, more connected. And maybe it’s because of this constant pursuit of ‘what’s next’ that I find myself less connected to brands than ever before.

Then again, I’m also having fewer positive experiences with brands, and I’m not talking about brand purpose and their goal to make the world great, I’m actually referring to the consumer experience itself…

In 1998 Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore coined the term ‘the experience economy’: the sale of memorable experiences to consumers. They also highlighted actions that can enhance or detract from the consumer experience. If you get the chance – I suggest reading their book.

So, why is this turn of the century book relevant today?

In the push for digitized experiences some brands have forgotten that these experiences can be both good and bad, and simply being digital (or whatever that means) does not automatically make it good. For example, Tik Tok is great, but it doesn’t mean your brand should be there if Tik Tok isn’t going to add to your customer’s experience.

A couple of weeks ago Tom Cruise and Top Gun jumped back into our lives with his new Top Gun: Maverick movie. A sequel to a film made 36 years ago. For many, the experience was like putting on your old comfy shoes and enjoying the ride, whilst reconnecting with a character that many had idolised or even quoted. My three boys who have never seen the movie can even quote some of the lines, and many a bromance has been cemented as men bond over their ‘need for speed’.

What I love about the launch of Top Gun: Maverick, is that not only did it employ a tried and tested approach of marketing utilising the presence of star power at the premier to drive buzz; it’s that they waited for the right time to release the movie in theatres to deliver the best consumer/movie experience.

Conversely, Disney/Marvel chose to release the Black Widow movie straight to Disney+, their digital streaming service.

Now I know that some people have some incredible audiovisual set ups at home; yet home TV’s, no matter how large, cannot bring that collective experience of the cinema. It meant that Disney gave up the magic of the experience to focus on its competition for subscribers with Netflix.

In the push to join the rush, I often wonder if marketers pause to think about the physical and cultural consumer experiences they may be giving up. Which is not to say these elements of experience can’t manifest in different ways through a digital presence.

Staying with Disney, I’m a fan of the weekly release of new content on Disney+ such as Ms Marvel and Obi-Wan Kenobi. It creates excitement and anticipation for the TV show, thus building experience.

Some may complain that they want all their content at once. I however, now look forward to Wednesdays. Humpday has become a day that not only am I entertained, it’s a day that unites my family for a shared viewing experience that money can’t buy (ok $7.99 buys it, but the subscription is worth it). Now that is the experience economy in action.

So, I ask you to think on this. Look past frictionless CX journeys, and shiny new things, and evaluate the experience you’re creating. Where do you add value, where do you lose value? You may just find that your brand’s purpose is not about making the world a better place, it’s simply bringing a family together in a disconnected world.


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