Experience Economy: What’s next?

Whilst reading the “Art of Innovation” the other day (review will follow soon enough), I came across something I was not aware of. This was the theory about the evolution of economies, as coined by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore (in the distant 1998, while I was still in high school).

The whole concept is explained through a birthday cake. In the commodity-driven economy a mother would buy raw materials and using her skills, would prepare a birthday cake for her son. Moving towards the product-based economy, mother would buy a cake mix and some icing that would allow her to prepare the same cake with less manual effort. Later, in the service economy, parents order the cakes from the bakeries that even offer to garnish the cake with the child’s name. Now, in the experience economy,  parents outsource the entire event of organizing a birthday party, to Chuck E. Cheese, that also offer the cake for free.

Image taken from: https://hbr.org/1998/07/welcome-to-the-experience-economy
Image taken from: https://hbr.org/1998/07/welcome-to-the-experience-economy

In this experience economy, designing memorable experiences is key. The five (5) focal experience-design principles were provided by the same authors.

  • Theme the experience,
  • Harmonize impressions with positive cues,
  • Eliminate negative cues,
  • Mix in memorabilia,
  • Engage all five senses

Thinking about them, even in the context of our family owned cafe, made worlds of sense to me. We are actually kind of doing some of them already and partially this is why we have a small success story in our hands in the middle of the Greek crisis. Cause we do perform some of the above, more or less.

Finishing with the article, I kept thinking about one thing in particular. I kept thinking whether or not the experience economy is still with us or we can say that we have started transitioning to something new. It could be a whole new kind of economy , or could it be some kind of a circle? I am seeing more and more, how lots of non-technical, consumer-goods startups, are relying on hand-made, personalized, crafted goods. This looks a lot like the commodity-driven economy that seemed to be behind us. Isn’t it?

Maybe we are talking about a hybrid, a mix of the previous. Maybe all of the aforementioned economies co-exist and what I am describing has nothing to do with a new thing. It’s just commodity-driven getting a revival, just like midi skirts or sth. Or maybe there’s actually a new economy type in town, and I just can’t put my finger on it…


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