It's been a while since I last read Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore's book The Experience Economy. If you haven't read this book, trust me. Go buy it and start reading it right now. If you have a product or service that you offer (we all do, whether in business, church, or the non profit arena), it is imperative that you grasp the context of the Experience Economy.
I am reminded of it because in a conversation yesterday someone asked me how I would recommend they keep their product from becoming a commodity. From just being lumped in with all the other similar products in their space, and being seen as just an option instead of the only option. Where price determines what the consumer chooses vs. other factors like emotion, connection, and memories.
In the book, Pine and Gilmore lay out the four levels of economic value : commodities, goods, services, and experiences. Progression happens by moving from commodity to experience. Think about coffee. Coffee beans are a commodity, ground coffee is a good, a cup of coffee at dinner is a service, and a latte at a trendy cafe is an experience.
Or about birthday parties for kids- a cake is a commodity, a customized cake is a good, a birthday party with friends is a service, and a full fledged laser tag birthday celebration is an experience. Think about Apple stores. Disney World. You get the point.
The question is how are you creating an experience with the product or service that you offer? How are you allowing your customer to be so engaged with your product that they connect emotionally? Does your product or service creates memories for your customer? Do they want to tell their friends?
There is also a fifth level of economic value, which is transformation. Incredibly hard to reach this level, but our goal should be to get there.