Why People Want to Buy Experiences, Not Things



In case you haven’t heard, there’s a new yoga craze sweeping the nation – goat yoga. And, it’s probably what you would imagine. People do yoga, while goats roam around and jump on the participants who are holding poses. It may seem odd to some. But its creator, Lainey Morse, realized early this type of yoga had unique therapeutic benefits. In fact, it was during her own divorce and illness when she “realized the power goats had to make people feel better.” And, it’s obvious others have discovered the same.

Morse began the trend in Oregon last year. It has since moved in all directions of the country and landed near me in Nashville, TN. And, though I’d considered trying it, I wasn’t sold until I saw a friend’s experience on Instagram. She was reaching for her toes and smiling ear to ear, while a cute baby goat stood on her back.

That next Saturday morning, my four-year-old daughter and I joined the sold-out 7:30 class. It was already humid and an imminent thunderstorm loomed overhead. I was beginning to regret my decision. But then, the gate opened, and all the little goats hurried through to greet us, their guests. My daughter yelled for me to “look!” And, as I glanced over at her smiling face, I was reminded why people prefer to buy experiences, not things.

4 Reasons People Prefer to Buy Experiences, Not Things

Around 75% of millennials would rather buy an experience than a product. And, for several good reasons: 

1. To be happy.

Though happiness is subjective, this reason just so happens to be based on science. For instance, research shows that anticipation when waiting to buy experiences is greater than when waiting to buy a product. This means when you buy experiences, not things, you are happier longer. Plus, being able to live in the moment of an experience puts a wandering mind to rest. That’s important because psychology experts say “a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.”

2. To be connected.

A survey by Harris Poll reports on the value of an experience in helping millennials, our largest generation, to be more connected. It says 69% feel time spent outside of the house with loved ones, which they “cherish,” is “more valuable than nights at home.” Seventy-nine percent have found live events to “deepen” these relationships. At the same time, these experiential events allow 69% to also find a sense of community. They “feel more connected to other people, the community, and the world.” 

[Tweet “Experiential events must fulfill an emotional need for attendees to buy into a brand.”]

3. To be recognized.

The Harris Poll also addresses the issue that “nearly 7 in 10” millennials have with fear of missing out, or FOMO. “In a world where life experiences are broadcasted across social media,” they say FOMO “drives millennials to show up, share and engage.” In fact, 98% of attendees to experiential events will “create digital or social content.” And, 100% will share it. This extends to all age groups, but especially to millennials and Gen X, as well as many of our youngest baby boomers.

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4. To learn.

With millennials as parents, the affinity for experiences will extend to their children. In the meantime, these moms and dads are, according to Forbes, “looking to brands to provide hands-on experiences that inspire learning in a new way.” So, the article gives advice to brands of all kinds. It says to start thinking more “about bringing an owned experience into their marketing and business strategies.”

Yet, as more brands, regardless of their business, adopt experiential events as a strategy, they must be mindful of the experience. They must focus on adopting the best practices below to deliver a positive one. Otherwise, the results could be detrimental to brand perception and their bottom lines.

How to Ensure People Will Enjoy Your Experiential Events

Brands with staying power will always work to improve strategies for experiential events. Heed these two best practices to help your brand be the experience people choose time and again.

1. Have the right number of event staff.

When experiential events lack proper event staffing, the guest experience may suffer. For example, during goat yoga, a situation with a goat left me unable to use my mat. I was also unable to get the attention of the few event staff for help. And, the longer I waited, the more frustrated I became. You could say I had a “wandering mind.” But, I eventually solved the problem myself and was able to enjoy the experience again. Yet, what happens when other attendees run into a similar situation and don’t find a solution? The results may be different.

They may choose to voice their negative opinion at the event, taking the attention of event staff resources that were already minimal. In turn, this may cause related problems for other attendees. Or, they may go as far as to leave, unbeknownst to event staff, bottling ill-will towards the brand. These emotions may make their way to social media, tainting others’ impressions, too. Brands can help avoid this scenario when hiring the right number of event staff to properly manage the event experience.

[Tweet “Do you have the right event staff – quantity & quality – to keep guests happy? #experiential”]

2. Have the right quality event staff.

People buy experiences, not things, for the reasons listed above and more. But, what if event staff can’t help attendees realize their reason for attending? They’ll likely see it as a waste of their time, which won’t bode well for brand perception either. This makes the skills and know-how of event staff of great importance when experiential event planning.

Fortunately, for people attending a goat yoga class, the event staff tend to own the goats and have experience with them. Yet, think about the other “talent” required. People with personality and interpersonal skills must welcome and assist attendees. And, a qualified yoga instructor must lead the class. The latter is a specialty that can’t be overlooked. Similarly, other experiential events may require someone with sales experience, or is a dancer. And, brands looking to execute a job well done should test candidates’ abilities or get references. They may even hire one with a specialized certification to ensure guests’ safety.

The bottom line is, brands must hire event staff with the right skills to execute their plan and achieve their goals. And, when the quantity is right, too, consumers will be more apt to buy into your brand experience.

Since 1999, EPS has supplied hundreds of brands with the right quantity and quality of event staff to keep their experiential events on trend. Let us help you deliver the experience your consumers want.
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