10 Meaningful experiences

Life has changed, and so have our preferences. In the eighties and nineties we went out to ‘get a television’. The stores we did business with showed us rows of televisions and we picked the one we wanted and went home. After the turn of the century we changed and started to think of that moment when we get something as a moment that we consciously set apart for ourselves. Over the past ten years we have been growing towards the experience. The experience that should start almost the minute you think of getting something.

Now we are taking it a step further. No longer are we looking for just an experience. We are looking for a meaningful experience. We want the experience to tie into something which we value beyond the purchase, beyond the participation. We want an experience that adds to what we have decided has meaning in our lives. That is what the meaningful experiences are about.

Jack and his family have decided to go green. He has already installed a couple of solar panels on the roof of his house and has completely re-insulated the house to the latest standards. As a family they have decided that they will go organic, so they switched to a neighborhood shop that supplies them with all they need. Up until today they had two family cars and after much debate, they have decided to buy a hybrid car. This has Jack  jumping into his full size sedan to check out a couple of hybrids at local dealerships on a sunny Saturday morning. From this example we can derive a couple of things that are vital to providing a meaningful experience which will help Jack make up his mind about the choice he is about to make. Jack and his family have seen what is going on in the world, and they want to take their responsibility. A reason why they want to take that responsibility is that they feel themselves part of a community of people and the actions they take have a direct effect on the well being of the community. And realizing all the effects their actions have on society, Jack feels the choice to go green directly influences his personal integrity. There can be more things, but these are a couple of the most obvious that we can easily derive from Jack. Or from many others that are considering buying a hybrid car. The biggest put off Jack can face, is a dealership that still has its focus on traditional motoring. Large floors, chrome bars, big desks, sales people in tight suits, lots of artificial light, no plants and an emphasis on the power of the big engine. This is the dealership where Jack will find an experience that clashes with his own core values. Jack really is looking for a dealership that has lots of natural light and focuses on the values of society. A place where he feels his decision is wholeheartedly supported. Where a sales person meets with him who talks about his family, about taking trips with the family and about the latest happenings in the area. That will be the dealership where Jack will feel at home. And that will be the place where he will spend his money.

The good news about meaningful experiences is that everyone can offer them. We see it happen all around us and there is more to come. The transition supermarkets have made in the past twenty years is enormous. From a place where you came for your weekly necessities, the supermarket has become a place where you spend time shopping for the experience you will have at your table that evening. Bookstores have ceased to be a collection of thickly packed shelves, but have turned towards recreating the feelings people get over the reasons for them to read a book. A place of rest and relaxation, a place you care to share with friends and which always has something surprising in store for you if you want to. But the same could go for government agencies that you have to visit for that ‘necessary evil’ of passports, licenses etcetera. It could be so different if they would be geared towards connecting to peoples‘ reasons to be there, instead of the most efficient way of handling the process. And the great thing is that if there is a meaningful experience, people will not care if the process is not as efficient as possible. As long as it is geared towards them and their needs.

So, how about you, your product, your organization and your projects? Can you create a meaningful experience for your target audience? The best way to answer this question is to sit down and go over your offerings to see how they can connect to the core values of your audience. Because tying in to those prime motivators in the right way throughout the thought processes of your target audience is key in helping them make a choice for you.

This post is part of a series on 10 social trends that can help you get your point across. For more information or a tailored advice on what could be your opportunities, get in touch on arne@arnehulstein.nl

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