Market desire for experiential purchases over acquiring stuff

– what upscale home brands need to know and do.  

Luxury millennial shoppers were asked “if you were looking to buy a present for our partner/family member and had a generous budget, would you choose a luxury branded product or an experience (e.g. concert tickets, weekend away, fancy dinner, etc.)?” Over half of US millennials who are prone to purchase luxury items chose the experience in a 2017 Deloitte study. Similarly, millennials were asked what they would they would spend hypothetical lottery winnings on in a 2016 study by Mintel. 57% chose vacations, versus only 34% who selected clothing or accessories.

Groupon capitalized on this sentiment in a TV spot pitting the Haves vs. the Have Dones. The “haves” were represented by the elderly flaunting needless extravagance while the “have dones” appeared as energetic young adults and families enjoying a variety of unique experiences. The closing tagline: “If you’re going to own something, own the experience.”

Millennials – specifically affluent and high net worth millennials – rank bettering themselves and spending more time with family and friends significantly higher than their older age cohorts.

The experiential economy is not new news. Millennials emphasize accumulating experiences over things. We’ve written about this before – the sale of experiences outpaces the sale of things

So, what does this mean for companies and brands in the high-end home category largely focused on selling stuff? You better find a way to be an enabler to the experiences Millennials seek. Or, represent the lifestyle and values they embrace and want to project. Ideally, both.

We’ve talked about this a little in the case of high-end, premium cookware.  There’s more to selling premium-priced cookware than high performance and premium product features. High-end cookware is a conduit or enabler to what affluent consumers care about – healthy eating, cooking as a mindfulness activity and spending quality time with family and friends. Tying the product and the brand to these experiential desires and values is key to motivating affluent Millennials to purchase.

While we know luxury brands deliver high quality and function, they also convey symbolic and experiential value. Customers are attracted to your products because they buy into your philosophy and your story.  This is even more so true for Millennial and Gen Z adults who are significantly more likely to say “the brands I use reinforce the image I want to portray.”

So, whether you sell high end furniture, appliances or building products, the experiential economy applies to you. A lot can be done in the way of targeting digital advertising and lead generation campaigns to reach this customer. But, to effectively market to this elusive consumer, it’s imperative to demonstrate how your products and brand enable the experiential lifestyle and image they aim to have and project. If your brand strategy doesn’t address this and you aren’t having these conversations with your advertising agency or branding agency, you’d better start.

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