Sri Lankan Street Vendors

Jun 28, 2019 | Pulse

The last great economic shift from an industrial to a service economy gave birth to the concept of ‘customer service’. This was the wrapping around the traditional commoditised offerings for a long time as a way to sell better and make a difference in the lives of the consumer.

Experiences were always considered a micro element of service which worked well in the era of ‘customer service.’ Now, with the rise of the Millennials and Gen Z, there is a fundamental shift in consumer values towards experiences over consumption.

Today, we are in the middle of an emerging experience economy. Gone are the days that experiences were only curtailed to the entertainment & travel industry. Instead, consumers are eager to step out of their comfort zone to savour & embrace new experiences across different categories. The new-age human experiences are reshaping how brands engage with their audiences.

We have seen premium brands fuelling the expectations of the experience-consumer delivering value beyond the functional and traditional customer service, but as the experience economy unfolds, we are starting to see that even smaller grass root level shops have started staging experiences that garner the attention of those in the vicinity.

The new experiential aspects they add to their offerings are completely different from a mere advancement of customer service, but giving the customer a memorable and a social media worthy experience.

Ice cream Kottu – this rendition is with a fusion of different ice creams. Two metal spatulas are used to mix and cut the ingredients on an ice grille and this is often done with a rhythm, similar to the famous Kottu Roti in Sri Lanka.

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A roadside corn seller attempting to create a unique experience amidst the urban hustle and bustle. He does so by planting corn plants around the stall and by having an on the spot BBQ for the corn at the customers request.

A store that sells porridge has arranged seating for its customers in a manner that they are surrounded by greenery. One can sit in front of the waterlily pond and enjoy their herbal porridge amidst the beauty of Mother Nature. They call the particular space ‘medicinal garden’ rather than a porridge stall.

Customers no longer only look at the mere functionality of a brand, instead, they seek experiences in every aspect of a brand’s ecosystem. Memorable brand experience creates a positive, personalised, and lasting imprint in their mind, helping to create a much deeper relationship that will keep them coming back.

None of this information should surprise you, but what does this mean for brands today? The key questions revolve around when and how to enter the experience economy.

• How should we identify a unique opportunity space to create the next memorable, ‘shareable’ and influential in-person experience?

• How can we leverage this theme around our category, consumer segments, and brand value system?

• What are the steps that we need to take today to engage with the experience consumer of the future?

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