IWF 2018: Marketing to Consumers Who Want Experiences, Not “Stuff”

11. July 2018 12:25

By: Amanda Eden, Stoner Bunting Advertising

Several years ago, Brian Schultz wrote an article for Advertising Age titled “Not Just Millennials: Consumers Want Experiences, Not Things.” The co‐founder and chief experience officer at New York City-based agency Magnetic spoke directly to our team as his article perfectly encapsulated the changes we were seeing first-hand in the building products industry.

Schultz offered an overview of the enormous shift that our society was undergoing when it came to how and where we spend our money. Since the article published in 2015, experiential marketing has exploded in growth. But growth is a double-edged sword that comes with plenty of idiosyncrasies.

For example, we are more connected than ever to technology (we check our smartphone 85 times per day, on average), yet consumers of all ages are clamoring for more real-world experiences. Why? It’s due to our desire to want to touch, smell, taste and feel the brands we love. Not just interact with them online.

If you’re a restaurant, resort hotel, airline or sky diving company, this is great. But if you’re a consumer products company that’s dealing with decreasing brick-and-mortar sales, you might be in a little bit of trouble.

Don’t get me wrong, we absolutely still love our “things,” and we certainly enjoy spending money on clothing, personal items and random accessories at Home Goods. But we’re more cognizant as to how we spend our money, opting instead for experiences – and memorable ones at that. So where does that leave brands trying to influence consumers to purchase their product? First, let’s talk about the shift in ideology.

The Science Behind the Increase

Schultz said, “various psychological studies are showing that all people — not just millennials — are happier when their money is spent on living, rather than on having. In fact, over the next five years, total spending will grow by nearly 22%, with the so‐called ‘non‐essential’ categories, including vacations and dining out, expected to see the greatest gains.”

Additionally, these same experiences are what many people choose to share across social channels. We Instagram our favorite dishes at restaurants, update our Twitter followers on travel plans, and share Facebook status updates about sporting events, concerts, and festivals.

We love our experiences in life, but it almost seems like some of us love sharing them more than taking part in them. Seriously…the last time you were at a concert, how many people had their phones held up in front of their face, videotaping the entire performance?


What Does This Mean?

In order to capture the attention of these movers, shakers, videographers, photographers and constant sharers, brands – and marketers like us – need to stay on top of the changes in consumer behavior and develop experiential marketing efforts that create powerful and lasting bonds between consumers and brands.

The same thing goes for business-to-business and trade relationships, as we focus on capturing the attention of designers, architects and others who design and build spaces that provide harmonious living and working experiences.

Below are three rules that Schultz shared in his article for successfully capturing the attention of these individuals. We dig them, and we think you will too:

  1. You don’t need to create large‐scale, complex experiences

If done right, small experiences can create truly sticky content. If executed properly, and documented well, your brand experience will drive your consumers and the press to tell your story better, and more authentically.

  1. Don’t overuse technology

If users can’t share it from their phone on a social medium they already use, you are probably overthinking it. And overcomplicating it for them. Never a good thing.

  1. Don’t believe the hype when it comes to the death of retail
    It doesn’t signal that consumer confidence levels are waning or that humans have less discretionary spending. It merely points to a culture that is starting to spend time and money differently. Ask yourself which you would prefer: a brand-new TV or a trip to Cuba? Yep, me too.

A consumer‐centric culture means act human – you know, the way your audiences behave. And that requires understanding that they are willing to spend, sometimes more than something is worth, if they value the experience as an overall part of the product.

Want to know more?

Learn how to create memorable and interactive experiences for your brand by attending the Closets Symposium at IWF Atlanta, Tuesday, August 21.

Stoner Bunting has been building relationships in the home and building products industry since 1984. Our insights into what excites audiences at every stage of the design and construction process – and our access to the people and publications that influence them – make your marketing smarter, so it works harder.



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