Rise Of The Experience Economy


(By Roy Williams) Our nation is changing, of course. Things aren’t like they used to be. Major retailers are closing hundreds of stores and famous clothing brands are at historic lows. But we’re not in a recession. According to an April 10 article by Derek Thompson in The Atlantic:

“America’s GDP has been growing for 8 straight years, gas prices are low, unemployment is under 5 percent, and the last 18 months have been quietly excellent years for wage growth, particularly for middle- and lower-income Americans.”

Yes, Amazon.com and the other online players are partially responsible for the decline of retail in America, but not nearly to the degree you might think. In 2016, only 6 percent of retail purchases were made online. But retailers are down by a lot more than 6 percent. Want to know what categories are doing better than ever? From the same Atlantic article:

“Travel is booming. Hotel occupancy is booming. Domestic airlines have flown more passengers each year since 2010, and last year U.S. airlines set a record, with 823 million passengers. The rise of restaurants is even more dramatic. In 2016, for the first time ever, Americans spent more money in restaurants and bars than at grocery stores. Sales in this category have grown twice as fast as all other retail spending.”

In other words, we’re buying fewer things, but more experiences.

Materialism is on the decline.

In retail stores and online, we’re spending a lot less on clothing. Its share of total consumer spending has declined by 20 percent in barely more than a decade. Houses, cars, and furniture seem to be less important to us as well.

But we’re spending more than ever on togetherness, entertainment, and fitness.

We hunger less for prestige, more for experiences and relationships.


If your client is going to get in step with this trend, they’re going to need to invest in customer bonding. Use “customer bonding” ads on the radio to win the hearts of the people before they need what your client sells.

Don’t let your client’s company be just another name on a list of search results.

“Customer bonding” ads are never predictable.

Michael Jordan wasn’t a perfectionist; he was an improvisationist. That’s why he was hard to stop.

A perfectionist knows exactly what he’s going to do. He plans his work and works his plan. The only problem is that because he knows, the defender knows, too. It’s easy to anticipate what a perfectionist is going to do. He’s predictable. But no one knew what Michael was going to do, because he didn’t know himself.

Predictability is the curse of the perfectionist and the silent assassin of advertising. Don’t be a perfectionist.

When you say what people expect you to say, no matter how well you say it, you bore them.

Improvisation puts the bubbles in champagne.

Improvisation puts a wiggle in your walk.

Improvisation puts money in your bank account, bread in your basket, glitter on your cheek, and a smile on your face.

Unexpected is interesting.

Unpredictable is enlightening.

Improvised is exciting.

“Random entry” is a technique that guarantees improvisation in advertising.

The magic of random entry begins when the ad writer doesn’t choose the opening line of the ad. Rather, it is chosen for him or her by someone who has no idea what they are doing

Want to try it? Ask a stranger to think of a colorful sentence. Tell them to make it “vivid, unexpected, larger than life.” Tell them, “The sentence doesn’t have to be about anything in particular; it just has to cause people to be curious about where this story is headed.

If the ad you create makes sense, elevates attention, and successfully sells a product or service, congratulations! You are an improvisationist.

The best “customer bonding” ads are written by improvisationists.

Now dunk the ball.

I know you can fly.

Don’t pretend you can’t.

Roy H. Williams is president of Wizard of Ads Inc. https://www.mondaymorningmemo.com/


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