If given a hundred dollars, would you rather spend it on an item or an experience?
If you chose the latter, you’re in good company. Say hello to the “experience economy.” First coined in 1998, the experience economy is the shift from an economy based on consuming services or owning things, to an economy powered by investment in experiences.
Since 1998, the shift to an experience economy has only accelerated. Data from April 2017 shows a 16-20% increase in spending on bars and restaurants, accompanied by a drop in spending in stores and on cars or appliances. As IKEA’s Head of Sustainability put it: “In the West, we have probably hit peak stuff.”
This shift is largely thanks to millennials. Three out of four millennials would rather spend their money on an experience than buy something desirable. This “experience generation” is now a third of the U.S. population.
On the surface, this is great news for event creators, whose business is built on providing unique experiences. But a layer deeper, this shift has led to more events in the market — making it harder than ever for yours to stand out.
To capitalize on the experience economy when crafting your event, it’s vital to understand the trends driving the shift.
Trend # 1: People crave interactions off social media
We’ve all become best friends with our gadgets. The line between friends on Facebook and friends in real life is blurred. But social media can’t replace in-person interactions.
The experience economy stems from a desire to connect more authentically. Four out of five millennials say that attending live events makes them feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world.
Similarly, while many people build their personal brand online, millennials view attending events as a powerful way to express themselves. 73% of millennials say attending a live event is a form of self-expression, versus just 48% of other generations.
Trend #2: People are looking for a new perspective
People are also turning to in-person interactions as a way to refresh their point of view. In fact, 70% of Americans agree that attending a live event has been more successful at expanding their perspective than just reading about a topic online.
In a world where the today’s headlines are yesterday’s old news, in-person events provide the opportunity to connect and gain perspective.
Trend #3: Our cultural climate is shifting
In an era of heightened political tensions and natural disasters, people desire togetherness that they can’t necessarily find on social media.
80% of Americans — regardless of age, gender, income, or geography — believe it’s essential for people to come together in person to promote positive change. And for millennials specifically, more than a quarter of them have attended a political event in the last year. They believe participation outweighs online actions like signing petitions and taking surveys.
It’s not just about rallies and political events, either. 84% of people believe that all types of events can inspire positive cultural and political change. This includes things like fundraisers, festivals, or even a fun run — anything that raises awareness and promotes community.
Trend #4: Millennials are starting families
As millennials age, they enter what economists consider their “prime spending years.” This makes them a powerful target market. But to appeal to them successfully, keep in mind that over half (53%) of millennials are now parents.
That doesn’t mean they’re going out less. Seven in 10 (69%) of both younger and older millennials attend live events to challenge themselves and escape everyday routines. Their interest in attending events doesn’t lessen once they start families.
Instead, millennials are going to more daytime, family-friendly events than they used to. Two-thirds (64%) of Millennials are attending more daytime, family-suitable events on the weekend now than they did 5 years ago. As a result, festivals, concerts, and other types of large events that used to be just for adults are incorporating family-friendly activities.
Trend #5: Livestreaming is making experiences more valuable
Livestreaming is having a moment. According to Facebook, people spend more than 3x more time watching a live video than a recorded video. But it might surprise you to hear that the millennials most likely to livestream at events are parents.
Less than half (47%) of millennials without children use social media to livestream or share their experience in the moment, compared to a full 70% of millennial parents.
This isn’t as surprising when you hear that 61% of millennial parents also admit to attending a live event so they have something to share on social channels —compared to only 34% of Millennials without children.
Millennials parents attend live events in part as a way to express themselves. And livestreaming is one of the most intimate ways to share real life online.
Designing an event in the experience economy
So, how do you create an event that forges a lasting connection in the experience economy? Learn how to craft an experience that will make your event stand the test of time in How to Craft the Ultimate Event Experience.