Wish You Were Here:

 The Power of Shareable Brand Experiences
10/04/2017 02:56 pm ET

If you had to pinpoint a specific place in time, the first seminal moment in brand experience likely came in 1998 with the publication of The Experience Economy by B. Joseph Pine and James H. Gilmore. The book was one of the industry’s most influential, predicting a new economic era in which all businesses would be compelled to orchestrate memorable events for their customers. Conceptually, it was fueled by what was seen as a shift in our definition of self: from “relationship to things” to “relationship to experiences.” Even before that, the 60s and 70s in retail represented a breakthrough as individual expressive brands like The Gap and Urban Outfitters presented a world of colliding ideas with experiences that emanated out of their retail spaces, creating new destinations for younger, engaged shoppers.

However, even with this noted potential, experience as a differentiator saw a glacial pace of growth and in many ways has continued to suffer its own global warming effect with many brands leaving the discipline as quickly as they arrive. Only very recently has experience retaken the mainstage, partially driven by social media and its ability to turn brand experiences into marketing moments.

At their best, experiences designed and built to inspire participation and social sharing can be invaluable platforms for deep consumer engagement with brands.

Today, we are seeing a change as brands start to understand the value of an experience well beyond the immediacy of sales. They are also realizing how the moments these experiences create become powerful brand building tools on platforms like Instagram. Architecting an experience, whether in retail or on the street activations, puts social amplification at the center of the experience. With the right experience, consumers will happily do the brand’s advertising for them, on social media and beyond.

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-Alasdair Lloyd-Jones 
President & CSO at SET