People savour amazing moments more than amazing things, so brands need to focus on providing more exciting, playful, fun, and ultimately REAL experiences in order to build deeper relationships with their consumers.
What makes you happier: experiences or things?
Think about it for a minute…do you still adore those shoes you bought three months ago? Or maybe you can you still feel the thrills from that full moon party four years back? I suppose the ultimate question is: would you rather spend your money on gadgets and handbags or holidays? It’s totally personal of course, but research has found that for most people, doing something gives longer-lasting excitement and enjoyment than owning something. In fact, we get kicks out of new things for a maximum of 12 weeks, whereas memories of positive experiences have real longevity.
This behaviour is increasingly evident in the modern day consumer: they they no longer seek to accumulate more and more products but also more and more tangible experiences. Brands need to recognise this and surprise, entertain, and delight their audience. Your consumers aren’t boring, so you shouldn’t be either!
This brings me onto the word ‘play’. Sometimes a dirty word, because it can sound trivial. But one of my favourite words (in a work sense), because who the hell doesn’t want a bit of play in their lives?! It’s one of the most innate human natures there is, and I’ll be damned if it’s ‘just something that children do’. Brands that encourage play, especially participatory play experiences, win the all-important attention (and ultimately hearts) of their audiences.
Four years ago, Volkswagen (a brand with great consumer relationships and loyalty) made strides ahead with their ‘Fun Theory’ work – one of my all time favourite campaigns. By creating physical experiences such as the piano stairs or the speed camera lottery they made REAL INTERACTIONS (ohmygodnoway, in this digital age?) with people, building deeper and less transient connections than normal marketing tactics, and ultimately changing their behaviour for the better.
Milka also did a great job in encouraging play between people by placing a very special chocolate vending machine in the middle of a square in Spain. There are no slots for coins, the chocolate can only be released by strangers holding hands – a novel physical experience that ultimately builds a deeper bond with the brand.
This playful approach doesn’t work for all brands: charities, healthcare companies etc need to show a degree of responsibility rather than running around exciting people all the time. But for the thousands of brands who could easily dial up the ‘fun’ a bit more – stop taking yourselves so seriously.
Consumers look for human brands with personalities who ultimately make them feel good, which is why playful experiences are such powerful weapons in the war against vanilla.
Words by – Jo Birch