VOL. MMXIII..No. 208

The Evolutionary Shopper | What They're Doing Now

Children At Play: Why Millennial Consumers Crave Experiences Over Commodities

 

 

 

Never before have we seen a generation so intensely focused on showcasing a kind of perfected lifestyle, whether it be in a coffee shop, where they earnestly watch their coffee being brewed, or a days-long excursion to Burning Man.

 

Millennials are on a constant quest to do something worth talking about or posting on social media.

 

While the narcissism of Millennials is well-documented, it’s safe to say that this behavior of self-absorption has become the norm across an ever-widening demographic.

 


{ It’s safe to say that this behavior of self-absorption has become the norm across an ever-widening demographic. }


 

Everyone, it seems, is acting like a Millennial.

 

Not long ago, consumer products like cars or luxury goods were ways to express our identity. Now, a growing demographic is craving ways to connect with experience opportunities.

Yes, you are part of the “Selfie Generation” if you’re documenting and broadcasting what you do, where you are, who you’re with, and what you’re eating.

 

But for retailers and strategists it’s still Millennials who are driving the market for new ways to express themselves via “wow” experiences: those one-of-a-kind moments that will earn the world’s attention.

 

Following on the heels of food trucks, boot camps, and survival games comes the latest in fun and games: it’s Pee Wee’s Playhouse on steroids.

 


{ The whole point of the trend in experience-based exhibitions is that there is only the whiff of “culture” with barely the after-taste of intellect. }


 

Traveling pop-ups like Color Factory and the Museum of Ice Cream have managed to hit the sweet spot. Consumers are hungry for totally vapid yet deliriously goofy opportunities to behave like overgrown children.

 

 

 

Color Factory was created by a collective of designers who’s singular goal was to create interactive displays about color.

They’re called an “experience”(because just about everything these days is either that or a “journey.”)  Color Factory fits the bill with what their PR team describes as a “celebration of color and material.” Now there’s a vague mission statement.

 

To put it more succinctly: imagine what happens when Fisher Price hooks up with Jelly Belly.

 

Color Factory (like the Museum of Ice Cream) calls itself art but it probably has as much artistic merit as Stevia has calories. Never mind: the audience is forgiving so long as there’s a place to take a selfie.

 

 

The power of these installations is that they trump the more traditional art exhibitions: they’re easy to understand, allow you to touch what you see, and selfies are strongly encouraged.

The Museum of Ice Cream is anything but a museum and encourages visitors to “take as many pictures as you can.”

 


{ Retailers are taking careful note that more than 3 out of 4 millennials (78%) choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable. }


 

It’s essentially the same concept as the Color Factory except you substitute oversized candy and desserts. If you were Hello Kitty you’d be home by now.

 

This Willy Wonka fantasy barely makes any attempt to educate or inform visitors on the art or history of ice cream — but who cares, right?

 

 

At the Museum of Ice Cream, there’s hardly any ice cream or history about the dessert, but there are plenty of over-the-top set pieces just begging for you to insert yourself. Below, a host leads visitors in the oath of not eating the sprinkles or touching the giant cherries.

The whole point of these experience-based exhibitions is that there is only the whiff of “culture” with barely the after-taste of intellect.

 

But do not overlook its value. This seemingly innocent trend is the sign of bigger things to come and it’s impacting the existing retail landscape in very real ways.

 

The numbers are proof alone: more than 3 out of 4 millennials (78%) choose to spend money on a desirable experience or event over buying something desirable.

 

And 55% of millennials say they’re spending more on events and live experiences than ever before.

 

 

 

The Museum of Ice Cream: it’s all fun and games, including the infamous sprinkle pool. At the entrance, one of the few pieces of “art.”

FOMO, or “Fear of Missing Out,” is the driving force for why Millennials feel so compelled to demonstrate to the world that they’re engaged in just as many fun and meaningful experiences as everyone else appears to be – maybe more. Afterall, FOMO is a competitive sport.

 


{ Experiences – especially ones that happen as a group – appear to have greater long-term value than the traditional consumption of goods. }


 

The success of these enriched and highly designed experiences is that they feel organic yet still deliver the photographic proof  necessary to prove that one’s life is an enviable product — not to mention advertising the exhibition.

 

For the “Me” generation, this has greater long-term value than traditional consumer goods.

 

Sadly those who are really experiencing FOMO are the world’s long-suffering museums and cultural institutions who are largely lost in time with their staid and serious approaches to storytelling and exhibition.

 

It’s not their fault: it’s just the times have changed.

 

The truth is, the vast majority of museum exhibitions deliver relatively passive activities, ones where one wanders through white rooms and stares at works of art on the wall. We are admonished: Don’t touch. No cameras. Quiet, please.

 

Across the country, museums struggle against the tide of popular culture and a critical demographic that cares little for history or anything that reeks of the past.

 

It’s for this reason that we have seen so many of the better funded museums turning to increasingly “light” topics — like fashion.

 

At the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fashion exhibitions have managed to draw thousands, most notably with the record attendance in record 2011 for the Alexander McQueen “Savage Beauty” show, not to mention 2008’s Yves Saint Laurent exhibition.

 

Which is why going forward, we will see more and more marketers and public-facing institutions struggling to innovate bolder, more colorful ways to engage their target audience.

Related posts:

Repetto: French Dance Shoe Brings Out the Serge in You
The L-Word Redefined: New Book Argues the Case for ‘Luxury Beyond Luxury’
Can Apple Learn from Luxury?
The Bold and the Beautiful: Michael Johnson on the Power and Principle Behind Brand Identity Design

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Bookmark and Share
Charish Photo
Top