In 2020, when Singapore Airlines launched dining-in on planes parked on the tarmac, reservations sold out within 30 minutes. For those who preferred to stay at home, SIA delivered airline meals to their front doors, complete with the first-class tableware found exclusively onboard.
These examples show the power of experience for your brand — how strongly we connect with them, and how we have been taking them for granted.
The value of creating personal connections
Today’s biggest brands are looking to leave a lasting impression by leveraging experiences to establish unique relationships with individual consumers. The drive towards global scale that led to homogeneity has been replaced by a desire for the local and personal.
Take Johnnie Walker Houses. Inspiring ‘whisky conversations’, they immerse visitors in the history, provenance, and spirit of the iconic brand. Part art gallery and part museum, they’re designed to suit their locations.
In contrast, Nike’s ‘Nike by You’ service primarily serves consumers online. It provides the means for sneaker-heads to customize their shoes and sportswear.
The value goes beyond relationships; it is also financial. Starbucks, masters at elevating the price and perception of a cup of coffee, has taken things a step further with Starbucks Reserve. The Reserve experience takes consumers behind the scenes by putting roasteries in flagship stores. Small-batch beans, prepared in front of customers’ eyes, command an even higher price premium.
Covid, the world’s first shared experiences
Arguably, Covid-19 is the world’s first shared experience in recent memory. Everyone, in every geography, has faced the challenges of confinement
Online purchasing saw incredible growth during the pandemic while physical retailers experienced devastation. But the death of the high street and physical retail may have been overstated. People still crave physical experiences, and pure-play digital offers are limited.
Reframe the situation and it can be viewed as the catalyst for positive change, a provocateur that can prompt brands to make innovative leaps.
Consumer experience is a sign of commitment
By offering powerful experiences that allow customers to see brands differently, brands can influence and design their own futures. This creates tangible differentiation versus your competition.
It gives people compelling reasons to choose your brand over another.
During unpredictable times, the desire for a sense of control and security sees consumers turning to their preferred brands. Through displays of empathy, brands can connect with people and their day-to-day lives.
A collision of senses and tech
In the past, communication with consumers was linear: it drove them to the shelf, and stores were measured by the takings in their cash registers.
Today, stores have a wider purpose beyond sales. They play a role across the customer journey: creating awareness, triggering consideration, and stimulating further engagement.
Brands are being forced to reconsider traditional communications, channels, and retail formats. They need to reflect the new customer and a less predictable customer journey.
The worlds of online and offline now merge. The smartest brands seamlessly combine the emotional impact of sensorial experience with the convenience and efficiency of technology.
Today’s customer journey meanders across touch-points that work across three key dimensions – within Place (store), between People (service) and on Device (immersive), called ‘PPD’.
For example, when a customer walks into a Lego store, this is the Place. When they scan a QR code to see what’s inside the box, this is Device. When a knowledgeable member of staff approaches them, this is the Person. The Lego brand experience incorporates the holistic set of conditions to connect with the consumer.