You have been working hard and deserve a vacation. If you were told you would have the perfect “dream” vacation but have no memory of it afterwards, how much would you be willing to pay? Chances are, not very much. But, why? Even though the experience of the vacation would be utterly blissful, it would fail to deliver what we really want—memories. In our search for meaning, those memories help us build a personal narrative of our lives and are more valuable to us than the experience itself, and as research tells us, even more valuable than material possessions.
It is not just tourists that seek memorable experiences. Research in behavioral psychology has produced compelling evidence that experiences make people happier than acquiring material possessions. Once basic needs are met, experiences like hiking, taking cooking classes and travel bring us more happiness than buying new cars, clothes or accessories—and this holds true across generations. The relative value we place on experiences also grows along with our income. That is, the more affluent we become, the higher the value we place on memorable experiences over new possessions.
So what does this mean for the makers and purveyors of material possessions? It suggests that retailers should do more to create memorable experiences that deepen the engagement with customers and perhaps even become a part of customer’s personal story. But how? [Read more…]