Guest Author Erica Wolfe-Murray is one of the UK’s leading business and innovation experts. She is also the founder of Lola Media.
There is absolutely no doubt that companies offering experiences are enjoying a huge boom. Everybody is looking to try out new skills – drink a cocktail whilst making jewellery, disco on the ski slopes, trek, climb, canyon. Never has this been more true than for millennials. Now in their 20s, this generation would much rather “do” than “own”, spending their lives travelling, doing sports, going to workshops and partying.
However, this free-spirited attitude comes at a cost to your bottom line if you’re selling a product and particularly if the Christmas trading period is critical to your annual turnover. Developing an experience of some sort or other could be mission-critical for you. And there are no shortage of ideas to try…
If your product involves a skill and you already have the tools and materials, run a workshop. Hat-making, pattern-cutting, silver-smithing – anything! Give the workshop a seasonal focus, add in a cocktail or two and the participants will come rolling in.
Do you have unexploited connections? Perhaps you have access to an unusual building or hobby that can unlock some truly unique ideas. Flying fanatics Bertrand, Emeric and Lars turned their passion into the ultimate experiential offer – launching peer-to-peer platform Wingly, where you can contribute to private pilots’ light aircraft flying expenses. Enjoy a quick trip to Deauville or an aerial tour of the south coast!
If you work in a beautiful area, use this to your advantage! You could host river-bank gluhwein parties, winter barbecues, spa weekends, amazing staycations. Experiences that include a twist in conjunction with an iconic or secret location have rich potential.
In order to develop a really fabulous experience, you have to be aware of rising trends that you can use as a springboard. Understanding what can be harnessed and used in your intellectual assets/capital is also critical. Cocktail confectionery team Smith & Sinclair, use development chef Emile’s fantastic practical knowledge to, not only develop new products, but new experiences that will entice, excite and engage their customers in new ways. They offer a magical combination of delicious products throughout events that are just as inventive as the products they sell.
Another easy way to create an experience is to capture that amazing Instagram moment. Benjamin Pollock’s Toyshop in Covent Garden is over 130 years old. This year a Chinese mall developer approached them, keen to reproduce their iconic toy theatres as a winter attraction for the Instagram-crazy mall customers during the Christmas shopping rush in China. These beautiful, flamboyant reproductions have been featured on the news and have generated countless images on social media and raising sales.
But of course it is not just the offer of the experience – you need to be able to market it effectively as a gift, ensuring that you promote to the gift givers as well as those who will be participating in the experience. In order to do this, you may need to widen your marketing reach to entice those who would normally fall outside of your targeted activity.