Are You Selling a Product or Selling an Experience?

Image courtesy of Eelco Cramer's photostream

Image courtesy of Eelco Cramer’s photostream

When it comes to marketing and advertising, I’ve seen more ads targeting the experience you’ll get from using the product, rather than the product itself. For example, Starbucks unveiled new ads not too long ago, and there’s not one mention of the products that you’ll purchase at Starbucks.

Why is that? Starbucks knows that we’re well aware of their main product – coffee – and that we’ll probably be heading to their stores en masse before our morning commutes. But Starbucks doesn’t just want to sell you a cup of coffee. The ad I linked to earlier is a great example of that. The main selling point of the ad is the experience you’ll get when you visit a Starbucks. It highlights how there’s some conversations that you can’t have via text messages, and that Starbucks is a great place to unplug from technology and connect with people on a personal level.

And it’s not just Starbucks that is catering more to experience over product. Apple also comes to mind. And if you’re looking to buy experiences, there’s a site,, that sells them. You could purchase a weekend tennis getaway with Andre Agassi, get the VIP treatment at a concert or attend a private quarterback camp with Joe Montana.

Studies have shown that experiences are more valuable than things. There’s an article that suggests that buying experiences makes us happier than material things, and I also read another article that suggests we buy experiences and not just ‘things.’

So what does this do for your marketing and advertising campaign? I would suggest looking at the experience your product offers, and advertise that. Are you simply shilling hamburgers, or is your establishment similar to how Starbucks is marketing itself as – a great place to meet and have personal connections? Take a look at your strategy and ask yourself if you’re just selling another thing, or if you’re selling something more valuable than that, experience.

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