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The rise of the experience economy

18th March 2015

The rise of the ‘experience economy’ has seen an increase in companies engaging their consumers in brand experience events all over the world. Some examples of this range from Colgate’s appearance at the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage in India educating attendees about oral hygiene, to Coca Cola using drones to deliver crates of drinks to refresh migrant construction workers in Singapore.

By incorporating consumer experiences into a marketing campaign, companies can create a new form of communication, and buzz about their brand or product. Brand or product events give customers an experience which arms them with information to make a purchase. Marketing authors, Pine and Gilmore state "when a person buys a service, he purchases a set of intangible activities carried out on his behalf. But when he buys an experience, he pays to spend time enjoying a series of memorable events that a company stages to engage him in a personal way."

By creating a memorable consumer experience, a company is able to amplify the essence of a brand message into a physical and tangible experience which reinforces the brand promise. Consumers have an involvement in defining and co-creating value within these brand experiences.

According to research conducted by Atwal and Williams (2009), there are four different types of consumer engagement:


Examples: fashion show, performances, road-shows

The aim of entertainment events are purely to entertain consumers. Customers will therefore associate their brand with the great time they experienced and are more likely to make a future purchase.

Case Study: T-Mobile Welcome Home Campaign: to watch the YouTube video click here

T-Mobile are well known for their flash mobs as part of their ‘Life’s for Sharing’ campaign. Their ‘Welcome Home’ experience saw passengers at Heathrow Terminal 5 arrive home to a crowd of 300 people including a-cappella singers, T-mobile employees and the general public. As well as brightening up the day of those arriving home from their travels, the experience was filmed and used as a national television campaign.


Educational experiences aim to teach participants a new skill or increase those they already have.

Examples: demonstrations, road-shows, experiential

Case Study: Samsung’s Kick for Kids: to watch the YouTube video click here

Samsung Home Appliances ran a free ‘Kicks for Kids’ campaign were children had the chance to train with Chelsea Football Club coaches. The event reached over 16,000 children and the waiting area was host to a range of the latest Samsung electronics which parents browsed at throughout the day, gaining exposure to Samsung’s new products.


Escapist events allow attendees to escape their identity for the duration of the experience and act outside of their normal routine. This could be created through a themed pop up event where consumers are emerged within a unique and memorable experience. New technology such as Google Cardboard and virtual reality headsets can act as a new portal for escapist events by visually transporting clients into fantasy locations or giving tours inside video games or cars.

Examples: themed events, road shows, pop up events

Case Study: IKEA Big Sleepover: to watch the YouTube video click here

After discovering a Facebook page called ‘I want a sleepover in IKEA’, the marketing department decided to grant the wish of 100 lucky consumers, who got to spend the night in one of the stores warehouses. Guests were given sleepover goodie bags with eye masks and slippers, as well as massages and a bedtime story from reality TV star. This experience created a vast amount of press, whilst fully engaging 100 of their customers through an ‘escapist’ event which allowed attendees to step outside of their normal routine and create a memorable experience.


Examples: visual displays e.g. statues, lighting displays, pop ups

Through engaging the five senses, brands can immerse themselves in a brand experience, with little active communication. These activities can reach a much wider audience and can also be run alongside a social media campaign, using the visual imagery to communicate a brands messages worldwide.

Case Study: PS4 Launch, OXO Tower, London: to read The Telegraph report on the event click here

Sony took over the London skyline to host the launch of their PlayStation 4, changing the buildings iconic ‘OXO’ letters to represent PlayStation controller buttons. This display was photographed and shared all over the world.

Another example includes Nokia Lumia mobile phone launch, which saw an extraordinary visual lighting display in London. To watch the video click this link.

Take a look at two more of our favourite brand experiences:

  • Colgate at Kumbh Mela, India - click here to watch the YouTube film
  • Coca-Cola delivering coke to migrant workers in Singapore - click here to watch the film

Written by guest writer, Josie Pether, Vision PR


  • Atwal, G. and Williams, A. (2009) Luxury brand marketing – The experience is everything! Journal of Brand Management, 16, 338-346.
  • Pine , B. and Gilmore , J . (1999) The Experience Economy. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

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