There is no more business as usual. The world’s biggest taxi company owns exactly zero taxis. The largest hotelier owns zero rooms in zero hotels. The hottest name in designer fashion sells no clothing. Some of today’s hottest start-ups are taking on mature markets like beauty and grooming with zero product innovations by simply changing the way people shop. Uber, Airbnb, Rent the Runway, Birchbox, and the Dollar Shave Club all have one thing in common. They don’t sell products — they sell experiences.
Experience is the currency of a new age. The strategy of leveraging products to gain a competitive advantage is rapidly becoming obsolete. Copycat manufacturing is now so fast and cheap that innovators capture less than three percent of the economic surplus they create.
Price and selection are practically irrelevant now as advantages in light of “everything stores” like Amazon and Alibaba. Consumers today face a new and daunting prospect: infinite choice. When everything is available all the time, at any price, experience is the remaining true differentiator.
Infinity is a lot to wrap your brain around, but experience is different. It is the sum total of a customer’s interactions with a brand, at every touchpoint, from awareness to interest, research, purchase, and consumption. But it’s also more than that. Experience is how these interactions make the customer feel. Experience is the pathway for marketers to cut through the endless noise and engage each customer individually on an emotional level.