Jimi was on to something long before his time, and not just the heavy guitar sounds and the overt drug use. No, Jimi understood the value of experience, and its about time we all did. After all, we're rapidly moving into what I'll call the Experience Economy.
We, at least in well developed countries, have all that we need - all the food, shelter, clothing, medical care, etc. Many of the items we use every day are throw away commodities, including our telephones, computers, cars and other physical items. What distinguishes many of the products and services we use and admire is experience and authenticity.
I listened to a radio show recently where a proprietor talked about the value of his coffee and teas. He visited the tea plantations, and knows the coffee growers. When he sells coffee beans or tea leaves, he can tell you the story from the ground up. He believes this adds authenticity to his products and creates a compelling experience for the consumer. After all, when any grocery store carries a wide range of coffee brands in a host of flavors, we have all the "product" we need. Now that level of Maslow's hierarchy is attained, we move into the next level, not simply satisfying physical needs but emotional and aspirational needs as well.
If this supposition is true, then it turns on its head the marketing, advertising and delivery of much of the product and service in the marketplace. Delivering a good quality toothpaste at a good price isn't enough - it needs to deliver an experience and be authentic to its goals or purpose. Firms like Harley-Davison understand this - the sound of a Harly is copyrighted! There's more than simply acquiring and using the product - people align themselves and their thinking to the brand. Apple has done this as well. In the past, this has been the method for a firm to build a small but powerful group of advocates when the firm could only acquire a small niche in the customer base. Increasingly, I believe people will seek products and services that deliver an experience and seem authentic to specific beliefs or purposes.
This presents an interesting challenge to a services firm like ours. We advocate innovation and productivity. How do we demonstrate these concepts in the methods we use to deliver value to our clients, and in a way that demonstrates our authenticity and that creates a lasting experience for our customers? Clearly other services firms like Disney understand this, and I think other services firms like ours will need to adjust how we position ourselves in the market, and ultimately how we deliver our capabilities and services. We'll know we've arrived at the right spot when people are requesting our shirts and wearing our logo as a testament to the experience we delivered.