The experience economy: are you part of it?

What did you get up to at the weekend? If you didn’t spend it cupcake-making, distilling your own gin, or skydiving – you’re just not living. Or at least that’s what the latest research into millennial spending patterns would suggest.

According to a survey published by Eventbrite, more than three in four millennials (78%) would rather spend their money on an experience or event, than buying actual ‘stuff’. Owning a house or car has been pushed down the list of priorities in favour of making memories and “seizing the day.” The generation that views the world through an Instagram filter is more likely to spend their Christmas bonus on a weekend in Dubrovnik, than a down-payment on a Punto.

According to a survey published by Eventbrite, more than three in four millennials (78%) would rather spend their money on an experience or event, than buying actual ‘stuff’.

The world of F&B has taken note of this shift, with the rise of companies like Blanch and Shock Food Design, who provide catering for “immersive dining experiences.” Their back catalogue includes “exploding cakes, edible perfumes and the occasional member of the audience served up for dinner.” In collaboration with theatrical events company Lemonade and Laughing Gas, they recently hosted an elaborate homage to David Lynch’s cult 90s TV series, Twin Peaks, entitled ‘The Owls are Not What They Seem.’ Set in a reconstruction of the fictional town’s diner, guests were treated to a variety of intriguing delicacies, including what appeared to be a cup of black coffee, but was actually a beetroot, mushroom and black garlic soup served with savoury doughnuts. This all with a generous side-helping of murder-mystery melodrama.

So, what does this madness mean for the traditional F&B business? Well, there’s probably no need to transform your back-office into a Crystal Maze-inspired escape room just yet. But, it couldn’t hurt to start seeing your current offering in the context of the ‘experience culture’. This doesn’t have to mean themed dining, singing waiters, or extravagant interior design (but it could if you wanted it to), nor should it mean changing your identity as a business.

Think about what your customer sees and feels when they enter your bar/restaurant/coffee shop. Is their experience a good one? Do they want to hang around? Or, if you’re in fast food or takeaway, is their transaction as efficient and enjoyable as it could be?

There are many examples of establishments that run one-day courses or pop-up events in addition to their core business, with fantastic results. However, you don’t have to be providing cookery classes or latte lessons to capitalise on the experience economy; you just have to offer something your customers feel is worth their time.

The upside to this culture shift is that the food, drink and hospitality sector is built on experiences anyway; people don’t eat at a restaurant (only) for convenience. It’s about getting out of the house, tasting new things, being in different surroundings – and feeling as though you have ‘done’ something with your evening or weekend.

If you’re looking to tap into the experience economy, but aren’t sure where to start, get in touch to find out how our team of designers can help you to create a dining destination worth talking about...

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