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The pursuit of material possessions is passe for a generation that accumulates experiences not ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’. But are marketers creating transformational experiences that matter?, says Devendra Chawla, CEO, Spencer Retail

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When we reminisce about time spent with our parents, I’m reminded about the emphasis they had through their lives on the acquisition of food, clothes and a home as shelter. The same slogan got drilled into us as we grew up. ‘Roti , kapda aur makaan’ became markers of success and we spent the first 15 to 20 years of our working lives in the pursuit of acquiring these basics.

But the millennials and the next generation are not obsessing over these three basics. Today’s roti comes from either Zomato or Swiggy. These door-to-door delivery agents could pretty much satiate the hungriest soul with the widest variety of food available. They not only provide instant gratification at no effort at all, it’s also at a much lower cost, thus opening up numerous cuisines for a “try out”. New formats like social are more experiential and provide more than just food. They provide a culinary experience.

Clothes (fashion), too, are now slowing morphing into experiential trials and style-boxes delivered home. Experiential try-outs and digital fitting room assistants and smart check-out services are being rolled out to keep the millennial shopper in stores.

MakaanOwning a home is now compensated by the multiple holiday experiences. Unique travel experiences are just the tip of this iceberg and the MakeMyTrips and Booking.coms of the world help us get there. Forget owning a home, owning anything is a complete no-no. Think cars. With rent-a-car apps and Ola-Ubers doing the job quite effortlessly, the joy of owning a car is now such a yesterday’s feeling.

From a ‘roti, kapda aur makaan’ generation to ours – a data/content consuming living on entertainment generation, now we are giving way to ‘experience, experience aur experience’ generation.

The experience economy will take over every consumer touch point and a ‘Return on Experience’ would most likely be an important metric to track, just like we track Return on Investment.

Feel It, Flaunt It: The era of bespoke-ness Given changing currents in trends and taking cues from above, some existing industries are at risk of disruption. Many products would have to get transformed into services within the next 10 years. “Bespoke” will need to replace mass market production as personalisation takes fancy and we want to share with our friends the unique experiences we flaunt.

In search of this experience delivery, brand owners will need to build emotional layers around brands and services – an experience that engages deeply and not just a product delivery. This means brands will need to appeal to consumers on a personal level and seek to connect with them to create opportunities to build experiences.

The experience economy is basically re-imagining and increasing share-ability of every experience created. This will become evident in retail as stores could converge into experience arenas using artificial and virtual reality to create more immersive experiences. Shoppers would queue to buy limited production superior quality products, and potentially valued more when they are second-hand.

Think of cafes that morph into night clubs for the evening and change their business models to “subscription only” with unlimited food and drinks. People come into the club not just for food and drink but more for the experience.

Consumer products are not bought just because of their functional benefits – any soap would clean a dirty surface. But a brand that appeals to consumers on a personal level, and manages to create an internal experience that engages deeply and not just on the product delivery has a better chance of winning in the crowded market place.

Experience transformations can happen in any industry. Airlines hiring ‘sky chefs’ to provide consumers with unique experiences at 35,000 ft. IPL isn’t an only-cricket affair, it’s a full entertainment package. Capturing these moments on Instagram and sharing this “experience creation” is taking over from the “asset creation” mentality.

Our generation is the sandwiched one. We are the first asset-backed generation that will now watch the wilting away of the importance of the old-basics as our children grow up with different ideologies and ambitions. “Experiencing life to its fullest”, “not being in the rat-race” and “living for the moment” – to borrow from the dictionary of tomorrow. Not entirely wrong, one must admit, after all isn’t this just the one life and experiencing it is what life should be, rather than the rat race we and the earlier generation subjected itself to.

In effect, we are evolving from a generation that found its calling in chasing materialistic pursuits to the next generation that’s in the pursuit of experiences. Experiential life is the millennial life and we now have an entire generation of new consumers that live this life (and more so in future ). When we look at this generation through the lens of experiences and these new ideologies it opens up many more doors and avenues of new business models of tomorrow. We have turned the old logic upside down – from thinking that experiences are momentary and material things are permanent to possessions don’t provide permanent happiness. And for this time-poor and time-is-money generation, experiences trump possessions.

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