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July 08, 2004


Garrick Van Buren

Excellent question. I concur that Starbucks is not a prefect example - their consistency is waning

I'd recommend looking at Potbellys for a good, consistent experience.

Tom Asacker

Hi again Jon. Long time, no blog.

The "experience economy" was coined by Pine and Gilmore in their book of the same name. Here is how they describe it on their web site: "Goods and services are no longer enough. To be successful in today’s increasingly competitive environment companies must learn to stage experiences for each one of their individual customers. We have entered the Experience Economy, a new economic era in which all businesses must orchestrate memorable events for their customers that engage each one of them in an inherently personal way."

For a list of their Top Ten exemplars from their 2003 thinkAbout conference and to access the questions they pose, download their .pdf file ( http://www.customization.com/documents/2003Top10v8.pdf) that thus far includes:

10. The Library Hotel, New York, NY

9. John Robert’s Hair Studio & Spa, Cleveland, OH

8. Swarovski’s Kristallwelten, Tyrol, Austria

7. The Medieval Times

6. AmericasArmy.com

5. Hard Rock Vault, Orlando, FL

4. Mid-Columbia Medical Center, The Dalles, OR

3. Zorbing

For my simplistic view on much of the same, read this short article: http://sandboxwisdom.typepad.com/sandbox_wisdom/Competition.PDF

I hope your summer is going well. Stay passionate!


Great article, Tom! The link to the article at customization.com didn't work for me, though.

Chuck Conway

When I first read the title I thought "I totally agree, without expereince nobody's going to hire you!".

Then I read the post. :)

Jonathan Washburn

The Experience Economy has nothing (very little) to do with good customer service! I was going to give some other examples but just now a perfect one popped into my head. There is a breakfast restaurant in Vancouver Canada that is all about giving their customers shit; figuratively speaking. If you suggest to them that something is not to your satisfaction they tell you in a clever way that this ain't the Ritz. Basically just really bad and rude service. But still there is at least a 1/2 hour wait everyday to eat there! The food is nothing special, but the experience makes it worthwhile.


Jonathan's comment reminds me of a restaurant I've heard about in Myrtle Beach -- "Dick's Last Resort". From what I have been told, their premise is similar to the Canadian restaurant -- rude/poor service -- it's apparently a successful place.

Is this an "only in (North) America" phenomenon? People willing to pay for mistreatment? I think I've been placing too much emphasis on being polite and likable. :)

David Polinchock

We've actually been in the "experience" space for many years and it has more recently become a fashionable buzz phrase in the advertising biz. You are right, experiences are inherently personal, so it is somewhat difficult. However, you can certainly look at companies like American Girl, Urban Outfitters, Cold Stone Creamery (the ice cream store where they actually make your personalized ice cream right there for you!) and yes, even Starbuck's, that have made the experience their marketing tool. And part of their experience are the things that you dont think about any more. Prior to Starbuck's, did you ever order a coffee venti before? They've actually trained their customers to learn a new language to be a part of the experience. Of course, Walt Disney is considered to be the father of experience as we talk about it today. Before he opened Disneyland, that wasn't a typical attraction experience at all.

In the end, it's not about any one aspect. It's about delivering a compelling, authentic and relevant experience to your audience. Whether it's being treated rudely at Dick's Last Resort or the blue box from Tiffany's, we teach our clients that as more and more products become commodities, it's the experience that provides the point of difference. We do write and blog about the experience economy a great deal, so feel free to learn more about the experience economy and check out other experience links at http://experiencemanifesto.blogs.com/.

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