Joseph Pine & James Gilmore – The Experience Economy
The subtitle of this book says it all: “Goods and services are no longer enough.” Pine and Gilmore’s central assertion is that in an economic environment in which it is increasingly difficult to stand out amid all the choices, companies that market experiences as their product are more likely to succeed than companies which rely solely on the sale of goods and/or services. Experiences are distinct from both goods and services because they leverage these things to create something new for the customer. Pine and Gilmore say, “The newly identified offering of experiences occurs whenever a company intentionally uses services as the stage and goods as props to engage an individual” (11). The new economic offering in an Experience Economy is a personal-feeling, memorable event which has enough initial appeal that the consumer is willing to pay the price of admission to partake.
This book remains prescient today (an astonishing 10 years after its initial publication) because the claims the authors make and the examples they use are more often than not still major points of reference whenever we think of what constitutes a “great experience.” Walt Disney World, the Rainforest Café, Harley Davidson, and venues that specialize in kids’ birthday parties are all referenced throughout the book as successful business endeavors which have capitalized on the sale of holistic experiences (In reference to Harley, for example, the authors drive the case home by noting, “How many other company logos do you find tattooed on users’ bodies?” (18).)
The book ends by projecting that the next economic shift will be from marketing memorable experiences to enabling transformations. Pine and Gilmore argue, “In the nascent Transformation Economy, the customer is the product and the transformation is an aid in changing the traits of the individual who buys it” (205).