So, last week we decided to break out of the office and have a meeting at our favorite coffee shop in Annapolis. We walk in, and as soon as the door shuts I feel myself relaxing. I love everything about this place; I love the reclaimed wood tables and mismatched chairs, I love the drip coffee station, I love the employees and I ESPECIALLY love the coffee.
I order my $5 specialty drink and as I go to take the first sip I realize this is it: my personal bliss. A great cup of coffee, in an amazing location, is exactly what I needed. Despite the fact that I am there to work, I am happy.
Coincidentally this experience came after just having listened to an amazing Ted Radio Hour segment on NPR called Brand Over Brain. One of the things that resonated with me is that perception of quality and enjoyment are the most important factors in a brand experience. In his interview about whether [brand] Authenticity is Real, Joseph Pine says that experience is the number one deciding factor in brand loyalty. He explains that: “the best way to generate demand for any offering today is with an experience so engaging that customers can’t help but spend their time with you…what brands need to do is create these marketing experiences.” In his research, he found that when a brand creates a customized and authentic experience they see a higher ROI. The example he gives is Starbucks. The vast majority of Starbucks ads are selling an experience or a feeling, not a product. Think about it: Pumpkin Spice lattes evoke a feeling of fall, warmth, and coziness. Gingerbread lattes mean the Holidays are coming. They want consumers to come into their restaurants and experience firsthand the authenticity of their brand. They want you to know where the beans come from, how they are roasted, and the different types of flavors they provide. Despite their ubiquity in the coffee marketplace, Starbucks is somehow perceived as an authentic experience. They are a total anomaly in the coffee vertical. Because consumers believe it to be true, they feel the product is better. Starbucks never has to say their coffee is the best, they just have to sell the experience.
This got me thinking, and I realized I 100% buy into perception. My favorite coffee shop could have sold me a cup of dirt and I would have thought it was gold. Why? Because I perceive this coffee shop to be the best in the area, therefore my brain tells me the product I am enjoying is the best. I was about to feel duped when I realized I am not alone. There are roughly 80 million other Millennials that feel exactly the same way I do.
Back in September, we talked about Food Marketing To Millennials. One of the biggest trends we found within this demographic was that environment and experiential dining were extremely popular. In fact, many Millennials rate experience higher than taste when choosing a place to dine.
Every brand wants a piece of this Millennial demographic. With incredible buying power and relentless expectations, the best thing a brand can do is be authentic and create a experience that is so great you wouldn’t be able to give it up.