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Experiences are the new currency for capturing the hearts (and wallets) of consumers

Experiences are the new currency for capturing the hearts (and wallets) of consumers

Christopher Evans, Joint CEO at Collinson, the operator of Priority Pass™

We are truly living in the experience economy, with consumers now choosing to spend their time and money on enjoyable experiences that enrich their lives. While material goods still hold a place, new global research from Priority Pass has found that they’ve slipped down the global Currency of Experience Barometer – a trend that will increasingly affect how companies engage consumers and retain their loyalty.

Travel tops the table

The top four areas that consumers ranked were travel focused. Cultural holidays overseas now receive the biggest injection of cash, with respondents across the world spending an average of $1,537 a year on them – almost double what they spent on luxury items. Coming second were staycations, with 41% of consumers regularly holidaying at home. This was followed by wellness and spa holidays abroad (18%). While, overseas city breaks and weekends away were ranked forth, with almost a quarter (23%) respondents stating they’d put a gift worth $300 towards a short break.

Going out for a meal was ranked fifth by respondents, followed by solo travel abroad (particularly popular amongst the over 55s), catching a film at the cinema, attending live events, sporting holiday overseas and lastly, buying luxury items. Beyond expenditure, social media provides a good barometer for how we value things – and once again experience comes out on top, with 31% sharing posts about travelling for leisure and only 11% sharing new purchases.

Getting underneath the skin of the trends 

The statistics show that experience is well and truly king. So, why are we seeing this?

According to the Next Big Thing consumer futurist, Will Higham, the value of experiences over things is set to grow. Consumers are looking more for ‘meaning’ in what they do: possessions are proving less meaningful than experiences, and the memories and learnings they gain from them. Tomorrow’s consumer, citizen and employee will increasingly look for fulfilment from the experiences they have, share and remember. In future, what we do will matter more – to us and to our peer network – than what we buy. We’ll care more about status updates than status symbols.

As consumers start to value experiences more, Higham also says they’ll care more about how they feel during them. As a result, customer experience (CX) and customer service will become increasingly important. PwC predict these factors will become tomorrow’s key brand purchase differentiators. In its recent poll, 73% of consumers in 12 countries say CX is important factor in purchase decision making.

So, what does this mean for the [travel / finance] brands looking to capture consumers’ hearts and wallets in this new age of experience?

Rethinking banking loyalty options

Across the globe, we’re seeing more and more challenger banks and payment options enter the market, underpinned by digital and mobile which are delivering a seamless, simple and engaging digital experience that’s ‘always on’. And they’re rivalling traditional players – in December, Which? announced that Monzo came topof its annual survey of the bank accounts that customers love the most. Traditional card providers and banks are being forced to shake-up their strategies, not only in terms of technologies to match the services delivered but also looking at ways in which to boost brand loyalty. After all, with consumers savvier than ever and providers making it easier for them to switch accounts and cards, what will make them choose one over another?

As we’ve seen from our global research, traditional offerings such as money for switching banks, a voucher or a product freebie just won’t cut it anymore. Consumer behaviour is changing, and card providers and banks alike can’t ignore this. Those companies that are able to offer products and services that respond to the shift towards experiences, will reap the rewards when it comes to driving customer loyalty.

Experience is king, and it won’t be dethroned anytime soon.

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