Spend Money on Experiences Not Things: A Message to Companies, Organizations and Government


The Science of Why You Should Spend Money on Experiences, Not Things posted by Jay Cassano of Fast Company, talks about how people are in search of happiness, and the way to true happiness is through experiences not products.

From our own lives, I think we would mostly agree. The Tesla car is awesome, but it is so if we have a great time driving it; if we feel that we have luxury plus are saving the planet; if we think it looks good on us. These are all experiences. And they relate directly to perception, branding, sales, and customer commitment.

Apparently though, things which start off giving us good experiences can suffer from our extraordinary human ability to adapt. Once we adapt, scientific research, and again, our own experience, makes us lose interest. Think about all those wearable watches that are helping us count our steps. I have one girl friend who is sick on those things and has 7 thus far. Why? Because after the first 3-4 months, she is bored with them because they offer little else then counting. They have lost the ability to give new EXPERIENCES.

According to the article, the Easterlin Paradox states that money makes people happy to a point, and then it wears out. According to Dr. Thomas Gilovich, a psychology professor at Cornell University, material stuff can be liked but it is “separate from you. In contrast, your experiences really are a part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

Add to this the then revolutionary look in 1998 by Joe Pine and James Gilmore about the Experience Economy (now updated), and the fact that we are Experiential Beings, and we have psychological research reaffirming that we are happier when we have experiences rather than products, how are we – those that sell products (and services) going to rethink the experience we offer?

Let’s look at a few tough situations for examples. What could you, as a wearable watch designer/manufacturer do so that a person buys one watch and actually keeps it happily on her wrist for one year? What would be some things elected officials could do to create the happy experience which inspires 90% of Americans to vote in the next presidential election?

If you think of your customers, consumers, constituents, and each experience that they have with your company, your product, your service, from the moment they find out about you, through the time they are making the purchase, and then on to using your product, and doing so continually – are they having a “happy” experience? Is their interaction with you so compelling, that their experience of you becomes a part of them.

Gilovich talks about the importance of sharing experiences. This natural desire is the reason social media has exploded as a means of product and service communication. Can you, as a corporate executive, think more deeply about the experience you are providing to see where the experience can tap positively into the natural human story telling desire, and in a positive way? Think about GoPro which has captured the combination of experience + story telling + sharing so effectively that the company continues to explode in products, revenue and partnerships.

We all know that experience is the key to sales on every level. The questions is whether this added research can reaffirm our commitment and cause us to look once again and why people buy and give them what they are looking for.

by Limor Schafman [Yup – that’s me ice climbing in Alaska. Of the of the best experiences I’ve had EVER!]

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