Succeeding in Today’s Experience Economy

In their collaborative book, The Experience Economy: Work is Theatre and Every Business a Stage, authors Pine and Gilmore illustrate how the Industrial Economy supplanted Agrarian Economy—which in turn supplanted the Service Economy.

Today, the economic offerings bar is once again, being raised. In this shift into Experience Economy, we find goods and services pose as mere commodities, and are no longer enough.


This is a fundamental shift in the very fabric of the economy,” say Pine and Gilmore. “As traditional goods and services increasingly become commoditized, companies must stage experiences and guide transformations to establish differentiation and generate economic value.”

Experiences are memorable events, engaging each customer in inherently personal ways. Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence, tells business leaders:

“Follow the gospel of ‘Experience Marketing’ in all you do. The shrewdest marketers today tell us that selling a ‘product” or ‘service’ is not enough in a crowded marketplace for everything. Every interaction must be reframed as a … Seriously Cool Experience.”

Some service economy exemplars recognized by Pine and Gilmore:

Cerritos Library in Cerritos California uses themed spaces to display and define library’s collection. A stone paved “Main Street” link Shop-like spaces housing services including, City Hall After-hours, the Friends of the Library Store, Local History Room, and Special Collections and Exhibits.
The Geek Squad repairs computers while entertaining patrons with a Dragnet-like theme. Employees arrive in black and white cars attired as “geeks” in black slacks, white shirts and ties, high-water pants, white socks, displaying a badge identifying computer service and repair expertise.
American Girl Dolls and accessories retail offers an extensive “menu” of experiences including tea parties, birthday parties, even slumber parties where your child and friends can enjoy a sleepover in any American Girl store.
Mid-Columbia Hospital in The Dalles Oregon which was recognized by US News and World Report for innovative, customer-focused services. Patients choose room décor, hospital gowns, and health care services. Patients and their families also enjoy great access to an extensive medical library where they can research their illness and treatment options.

How can your organization profit from today’s experience economy? Smart companies are attracting customers and increasing revenues by wrapping high-value experiences around their products and services these key marketing questions:

• Defining “experiences” differentiating from standard products and services?
• How can we perpetually provide unforgettable, inherently personal experiences informing, connecting, engaging our customers, encouraging them to come back for more?
• How can we refresh the experience, assuring our customer will not become bored?
• How will we integrate experience into marketing campaigns?
• How can we recruit, train, and inspire team members to believe themselves to be
performers in real life? Truly believe Theater is not a metaphor rather, a way of doing business.

Pine and Gilmore warn “Those businesses that relegate themselves to the diminishing world of goods and services will be rendered irrelevant. To avoid this fate, you must learn to stage a rich, compelling experience.”