” There will be lots of examples of environmental awareness and inventive activities from all the contributors that don’t cost the earth, literally!” [Sidmouth SeaFest]
“An economy in which many goods or services are sold by emphasizing the effect they can have on people’s lives.” [Harvard Business Journal, 1998]
There were all sorts of things happening down on the Ham on Saturday:
Bicycle Ballet show among the attractions at Sea Fest
A performance by the Bicycle Ballet is among the entertainment on offer at Sidmouth Sea Fest this Saturday (May 20). The festival has a strong focus on community and the environment, and the Bicycle Ballet’s show – performed by acrobatic dancers on bikes – will promote the pleasures and environmental benefits of cycling…
Louise Cole, director of Sidmouth Coastal Community Hub which organises Sea Fest, said: “We are pleased to welcome Sidmouth Repair Café this year and the Wellbeing Health Action Team, along with Bicycle Ballet and Sidmouth Cycling Campaign – cycling is good for wellbeing and low cost and carbon neutral. There will be lots of examples of environmental awareness and inventive activities from all the contributors that don’t cost the earth, literally!”
Sea Fest begins with music and comedy at the Friday Night Fundraiser on May 19, followed by the day of free events, activities and entertainment on Saturday. There will be free arts and crafts, storytelling, stalls representing community groups and charities, and small food and trader stands on the Ham and the Esplanade.
It’s the ‘experience economy’, stupid!
What is the Experience Economy?
Back in 1998, the Harvard Business Journal coined the term “Experience Economy” in their article on how more people are spending their money on experiences instead of commodities. Since then, we’ve been barraged as a society with scientific evidence that, in order to be happy, it’s not so much about what we own, as what we do and how we do it. It really does make sense… Events are more memorable, and play a bigger part in how we view ourselves and the world than our possessions generally do.
The experience economy is defined as “an economy in which many goods or services are sold by emphasizing the effect they can have on people’s lives.” Experiences are their own category, just like “goods” and “services.” However, it is the combination of all of those goods and services that results in an experience that is much more valuable than the simple sum of its parts.
The experience economy is the phenomenon that we’ve seen since the 1990s of consumers recognizing that there’s more to life than just having stuff. Blame it on the internet showing more people what’s possible and how to do it, or the fact that so many of our most valuable “things” are now freely available – music, movies, art, communication, education and more. You could also attribute it to the longer hours most industries are adopting, now that everyone is accessible via their phones 24/7. But researchers have noted a trend: material goods are simply not as valued.
Millennials are leading the charge
According to an Eventbrite study, “more than 3 in 4 millennials (78%) would 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.”
Bristol ‘experiences’ company Yuup secures further £200k to support growth plansYuup’s platform allows users to buy activities such as cookery, wine tasting, circus skills and art classes
A Bristol tech company that collates different “fun” activities on offer in the city region has secured a further £200k investment. Yuup, which developed during the first lockdown in 2020 to help hundreds of small creative business owners offering experiences – such as art, exercise and food classes – to reach a wider audience, has secured investment through local impact investors Bristol & Bath Regional Capital.
It’s interesting to see how the ‘experience economy’ works with the tech industry – as the standard understanding is that people are looking for ‘live’ and ‘face-to-face’ experiences:
And yet, ‘young people’ clearly don’t see this as an issue:
Gen Z Fuels The Experience Economy: Tourism & Attractions Brands Take Heed
When it comes to tourism, Gen Zers have more than their share of stories to share – look at the TikTok feed of the average teenager or young adult. From Disneyland’s milestone anniversaries to the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Gen Z experience has primarily been a time of tremendous growth and innovation…
Gen Z is diverse and will likely be the most well-educated generation yet. Issues such as sustainability, sexuality, gender identity, racial equality, and environmental justice are things that they care about and search for everywhere they go. They care about the humans behind the brand and expect brands to be truthful and authentic. The key drivers for many brands are the same category drivers – price, location, quality, and service. If you were a restaurant, the flavor/food quality would matter. But when it comes to “tipping point” factors, we revert to these “emerging factors” like sustainability and authenticity.
Due to Gen Zer’s knowledge and fascination with the digital world and technology, some Gen Zers seek immersive experiences. Virtual reality caters to their interests by combining technology with social interaction in location-based entertainment venues. In addition, virtual reality is something that most people can’t get at home (at least not to the same extent), so they are willing to venture out and spend money on a premium virtual reality experience that beats what I get every day from my couch...
The rate of change in customer experience will accelerate as Gen Z rewards the brands that engage them before, during, and after their actual physical visit.
The question, then, is how far the economy of the South West can satisfy this growing trend.
This is from a 2009 study looking at the experience economy in Cornwall – and with some scepticism:
There is work within tourism studies which raises questions regarding tourism as a regional development measure related to the differing uses, requirements and developmental needs of tourists and locals. This results in tensions over how the landscape should be developed and maintained. For visitors, the emphasis is on using the landscape for the ‘consumption’ of place, and the retention of the area as some kind of illusory visitor idyll, whilst ‘locals’ have a more pragmatic approach to economic development which is often in conflict with tourist perception…
But as this weekend’s SeaFest in Sidmouth showed, young folk and local folk and visiting folk can all enjoy the ‘experience economy’ – and no doubt many were using their smart phones to record and share their experiences: