CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Australia

What is the Experience Economy (and why should QSRs care)?

By Elisa Adams, CEO, Sprout Research

Consumers ain’t what they used to be! Have you ever noticed that sometimes, a Gen X behaves like a Millennial or a Millennial projects the same values as a Boomer? It seems in our hyper-connected world, needs rather than demography are what really count…

One of the biggest mistakes we can make in business today is to rely on old models of understanding consumer behaviour when so much has changed in the new consumer landscape. Innovative technology and rapidly changing social attitudes and values have seen us evolve from a Service Economy, driven largely by transactions, to an Experience Economy.

In 2015, sharing and collaboration are king, and customer experiences and relationships now trump brands. Micro moments are the new currency and engagement creates ‘loyalty’. The digital revolution, fanned by the digital natives - the Millennials and Gen Zs - is a world of hyper-connected consumers empowered by access to more immediate information than ever before.

What does this mean for marketers?

While Millennials and Gen Zs may not yet hold the greatest spending power, they wield significant influence. Under 30s are revolutionizing the way consumers interact with brands so marketers must engage specifically with their needs. Truly understanding not just what your customers say and do, but what they feel – their emotional needs – is essential for brands to remain relevant and achieve lasting ‘engagement’.

What does this mean for researchers?

In 2015, thankfully, as researchers, we have access to leading-edge, non-conscious measurement tools, that tap into the emotional brain. New research technologies, like MindSight™, help us to crack the code and get to what I call the whole human truth. So uncovering our emotional triggers to predict or influence behaviours is no longer the puzzle it once was.

This means our cornerstone research approaches like brand, advertising and customer satisfaction tracking must evolve. A fuller picture can now be achieved, by co-mingling social listening, emotional engagement scores plus traditional tracking metrics.

What does this mean for brands?

Brands live and breathe through human experiences. Today, brands need to understand the customer relationship holistically – emotionally, rationally and socially. A brand that understands its customers from all angles will ultimately connect with its customers and succeed.

With this understanding, brands must challenge their purpose and value proposition. The days of simply making goods and delivering services are long gone, as consumers search for new and more emotionally enriching relationships and experiences.

In QSRs too, we must create a ‘total experience’ that adds value and substance to customers’ lives. In the end, the most important marketing metric is changing from ‘share of wallet’ and ‘share of voice’ to ‘share of experience.’

That’s why brands that evoke positive emotional responses are always going to be the most impactful and why marketers and advertisers need to understand not just rational motivations, but how to awaken the emotional brain. As Neurologist, Antonio Damasio put it, “A brain that can’t feel, can’t make up its mind.”

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by QSR Media. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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