Monday, December 28, 2015

Brand Experience

Back in the 1980s, when I was responsible for new product development at Hallmark, I recall reading an SRI International report that pointed to the emergence of experiences as something increasingly salable even over tangible products. Based on that report and other research, I developed a new business proposal for Hallmark that focused on providing and enhancing gift certificates for "experiences as gifts." These included massages, dinners at nice restaurants, balloon rides, wine tastings, movie tickets, etc. We even included services such as housecleaning and yard clean-up. 

While there is still a need for tangible products as we all still have functional needs, experiences are becoming an increasingly important part of our portfolio of purchases, especially for people with disposable income. 

When I think of my own spending, a significant portion of it is on leisure travel, adventure travel, dinners out, skiing, sailing, scuba diving, massages and similar experiences. Even my tangible purchases include a large element of experience - traveling to Napa Valley, touring wineries and tasting wines before I purchase them and visiting public and commercial art galleries before I purchase art. 

And while charitable giving should be altruistic, we often attend galas in which we have a chance to wear our formalwear,  dance to live bands, enjoy nice food and drink, socialize with old and new friends and bid on silent auctions, which I particularly enjoy. Clearly, galas are experiences. 

Even our local brewery (Genessee Brewing Company) has added tours, tastings, restaurants, bars, a beer museum and views of a 95 foot waterfall in downtown Rochester -- all clearly part of an experience. And, thanks to a local not-for-profit organization, an adjacent bridge across the Genesee River gorge from the brewery will soon be the home of a horizontal garden akin to New York City's High Line or Shelburne Falls, MA's Bridge of Flowers.

So, I would have you consider what sort of experience your brand is creating. When you consider how much we enjoy sensory stimulation - sight, taste, scent, touch and sound - it is important for brands to create experiences that play to these senses. 

I wish you great success in creating your brand's sensory experience. 


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