The Experience Economy can be captured in a single statistic, it’s this: from 1981 to 2012, the price of the average concert ticket rose over 400%.
Which makes the recent announcement by ABBA so intriguing (who, unlike many bands, have famously refused to head back out on tour, playing together once in the last 30 years). October 2016 saw the Swedish band announce that they were entering into a partnership with music mogul Simon Fuller and Universal Music to launch “a groundbreaking venture that will utilize the very latest in digital and virtual-reality technology…which will enable a new generation of fans to see, hear, and feel ABBA in a way previously unimagined”. The event is planned for 2018.
The Experience Economy will gain a new dimension: that of the VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE ECONOMY.
Iconic technologist Kevin Kelly has observed that the maturing of VR, AR and MR* technologies heralds a fundamental shift: from an internet in which information is the basic unit of currency, to one in which experiences are.
We won’t argue. But we’ll add that those digital experiences will quickly come to carry a status-weight equal to ‘real’ experiences, if not become more sought-after and prized. And yes, we know that’s a bold statement given most executives still consider digital experiences as more diverting than truly status-worthy.
Why? Well, status has always been defined by scarcity and abundance. In a consumer world of material abundance, the experiences people chose formed an increasingly important part of their identities. While limited and hard-to-access physical experiences carried even more elevated currency.
Next the VIRTUAL EXPERIENCE ECONOMY will shatter much of this logic: in a truly infinite and boundless virtual world the usual physical limitations of cost, accessibility and personal capability no longer apply to experiences, making consumers’ time the only scarcity.
As a result, the experiences an individual chooses will make an even stronger statement about ‘who they are’ as an individual than in the physical Experience Economy of the past decades. And that’s a status offer few consumers will refuse to embrace.