The idea of valuing life experiences over the collection of material things is one that’s gotten a great deal of media coverage in recent years. One psychological study after another contends that amassing a wealth of life experiences — be it travel, events, or merely interacting with people different from us no matter the circumstance — is better for humans than an unending effort to collect valued items.
Certainly, there’s nothing wrong with each of us placing value on items of personal importance. While I am a believer in spending my time and money on experiences over things, I, too, am a collector of things — music, books, tickets, t-shirts, and more. However, when I look at those items I place value in, I remember what most represent: the memory of an experience — whether a concert or a sporting event or sharing a conversation with a friend about a book for which we share an affinity.
Often, the power of our experiences returns with the emotions created by that recall. For as long as advertising has existed, marketers have touched on this power in branding ads that tug at the heartstrings of consumers. Viewers of the Emmy-winning TV series Mad Men will never forget one of the great scenes in that show’s history: Don Draper pitching Kodak executives a campaign for their new slide projector in an episode entitled “The Wheel”:
“This device isn’t a spaceship. It’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel. It’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels. Round and round, and back home again … to a place where we know we are loved.”
Today’s “carousel” resides in the palms of our hands: our mobile devices, with their high-resolution cameras and apps like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. Each of us holds some of our dearest experiences just one fingertip-on-a-touchscreen away.
Advertisers are learning just how powerful that can be. User-generated campaigns — where your customers tell their stories and share their experiences with your products and services — have become a massive part of the consumer journey. Not only can your customers promote their favorite products simply because they like them, but their friends and family are — statistically — far more likely to listen to them than they are anyone else.
Look at all three feature stories in this issue: Timberland’s massive success with a user-generated social media campaign that became an omnichannel branding campaign; travel marketers capitalizing on the power of reviews and other consumer feedback; and even the home shopping world getting involved in the “unboxing” craze sweeping social media. It’s all about the experience.
Yes, I am a believer in experiences. As a marketer in today’s connected social media environment, you must be, too.
Thomas Haire, Editor-in-Chief