As consumers veer toward experiences, marketers must shift gears

Buying activities supersedes acquiring material goods, and businesses—even those peddling familiar products—must do so with the fun of consumer participation in mind. Here’s how.

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People are spending less on what economists call “durable goods” such as cars, sofas and refrigerators. Apparel purchases have also dropped, much to the dismay of retailers.

Instead of buying more shoes and jackets to stuff in their closets, consumers are spending more on experiences. People are spending more on vacations and dining out. Even when they buy merchandise, they’re often spurred by the purchase “experience.”

Researchers initially thought this was a millennial trend, but it has expanded to other age groups. Numerous studies show that consumers feel happier buying experiences than accumulating possessions.

The social media factor

Besides growing tired of materialism, social media is influencing behavior. People enjoy taking photos of themselves in exotic locations or exciting situations to post on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. Consumers today want more than to bring home mementos and souvenirs; we increasingly define ourselves through our social media posts.

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