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Consumers are Rejecting Materialism and Embracing Experiences — Here’s How to Capitalize

Millennials are eschewing materialism in favor of experiences — here’s how your company can make the most of the trend.

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BY Rhett Power - 22 Mar 2018

Consumers are Rejecting Materialism and Embracing Experiences -- Here's How to Capitalize

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

The numbers don't lie -- people (especially Millennials) are placing a greater value on experiences instead of material goods. From music festivals to skydiving adventures to sporting events, the shift means that brands selling physical goods will no longer be able to get by using the traditional sales and marketing tactics of decades past.

The majority of Millennials have now entered the workforce, and the most populous generation wields an impressive $1.3 trillion in spending power, according to research from leading event technology platform Eventbrite. More than three-quarters of them (78 percent) prefer to spend their money on experiences instead of material things, and 72 percent are increasing the proportion of spending they dedicate to the former.

Numerous motivations are behind this shift in consumer behavior, but one of the biggest is undoubtedly social media. Millennials are armed with the tools necessary to broadcast their experiences to their peers, which means they are constantly consuming content posted by their friends. Almost 70 percent of Millennials report experiencing the fear of missing out that's become known as "FOMO," and it's ultimately influencing the value they place on unique experiences and live events.

The trend toward experiences doesn't mean that all events are enjoying a rise in popularity, however. A study by AccorHotels found that specific experiences resonated more than others. "Seeking an emotional connection to destinations is a rising trend amongst many travelers today," the study states. "In fact, more than a quarter of U.S. international travelers consider themselves 'sophisticated explorers' for whom 'exploring new cultures and their traditions while on vacation' is their top travel motivation."

It's important for brands to get creative to ensure they can thrive in this new environment. In particular, these strategies will help you capitalize on changing consumer trends.

1. Market for Making Memories

Nearly 80 percent of Millennials report that live events have been some of their favorite life experiences. They'll treasure the memories they create at these events for the rest of their lives. You can tap into this passion by associating your brand with the events, and it doesn't have to be a huge, complicated production. Small, properly executed events can often result in the stickiest content.

2. Cultivate Clicks of the 'Share' Button

Keep it simple. You don't have to create an entirely new app for your next live event. Sometimes all it takes is a clever hashtag to motivate attendees to share the experiences they're having with their peers. Don't overcomplicate the process and create obstacles people must overcome to spread the word.

3. Get Selective With Size

Would you rather see your favorite artist perform live in an arena or at a small bar with a maximum capacity of 250 people? Chances are you'd go with the latter, in part because it's more intimate but also because being one of 250 is more appealing than being one of 50,000.

Material goods used to be a large part of social status, but not many people want to share pictures of the luxury goods they've just spent a fortune on out of fear of being labeled as materialistic. Exclusive experiences, on the other hand, command significant value on social media, and posting a selfie with a celebrity will make someone the envy of his or her peers.

4. Promote Personalization

People are attracted to experiences because they're unique and happen once in a lifetime. The same can't be said of most products. Anyone with enough money can buy the same Rolex, but people can't go back in time to see a band that's no longer touring -- and chances are, they're not going to be telling their kids about the day they bought that expensive watch.

For brands selling physical goods, increase allure by finding a way to individualize your product. Whether you offer custom designs or limited edition runs, make everyday items unique and you'll increase the value associated with your brand.

While Millennials in many ways appear to be leading the charge, all generations are embracing the idea that spending hard-earned income on living is more important than having. According to a study from San Francisco State University, individuals report that spending on life experiences increases happiness and holds better value than spending on material things.

You don't have to run an adventure travel agency to capitalize on this trend. Just keep the above strategies in mind and you can keep up with the changing hearts and minds of customers as this new era of consumerism takes shape.

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