Experience vs things

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“Over the past few years, the US has witnessed a tectonic shift in spending with 4x more spending devoted to experiences rather than physical goods”. 

Millennials across the world have grown up with the existence of experiential shopping, for example Airbnb and ‘retailtainment’ like the Vans store equipped with a skate park. It is deepset in their spending behaviours. Shopping for experience rather than stuff is considered better for wellbeing, and so should be beneficial at society level. 

In the UK, Millennials are also the first generation worse off than their parents, indicating significant market impacts as they come into their prime spending years. The shift away from stuff to experiential shopping may be exacerbated by the higher value Millennials/GenZ place on environmental impacts (waste and climate) and feeling socially connected than earlier generations, as well as their having access to smaller living spaces in denser, less affordable cities – and less physical space for possessions. 

Retailers are already catering to this shift: e.g. Amazon high street experience stores, and growth in travel experience packages. More subtly, disruptive digital services are increasingly providing the full end-to-end customer experience for example digital butler services like AskWinston that arrange all your domestic services for you. 

Opinion piece by Annette Jezierska, Co-founder of The Future Fox. Watch Annette’s discussion on this topic with Sadie Morgan, National Infrastructure Commissioner, below.

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