When I was a kid, the coolest place to hang out was the mall. If you're under 20 years old, that probably shocks you. If you're in your 30's, you're probably nodding in agreement right now. The mall was so cool, and all I wanted in Jr. High was for my mom to drop me off there so I could hang with my friends, eat at the food court, and play some games in the arcade. Girls social life completely revolved around shopping at the mall. That's what girls did in the 80's and 90's. Since the 1950's when the suburban sprawl took off, these massive shopping centers have quickly became a center of the social and cultural experience in our country. We lived in a material economy, centered around product and purchase. Brands where only as strong as the products they had.
Look across the country now and you'll see dying malls. They're a failing breed, quickly becoming a wasteland of empty storefronts. Head on over to this BuzzFeed article to see photos of them completely abandoned. So what's the cause of this? That's where it all gets really interesting. Piper Jaffary has been taking an annual survey of teens for 27 years and, according to their most recent survey, teen mall attendance has dropped 30% in the past decade. Now that's not the only reason malls are dying, but it's a significant one. It get's more interesting than that though. According to the survey, teens are choosing to spend their time and money on restaurants and events. That is, instead of buying clothes and shoes, teens are buying concert tickets and hamburgers. Instead of hanging at the mall, young people are hanging at Chipotle. For the past 50 years or so, we've been in a material economy, but no more. Make no mistake, the research clearly shows we are fully entering the experience economy.
Make no mistake, the research clearly shows we are fully entering the experience economy.
This is so significant for us to grab. Our economy is going to demand a well designed experience. We are all going to have to get really good at creating value through unique and social experience brands. This isn't in the distant future. It's right now. Have you considered the experience around your brand? Are you creating a unique environment around your products and services? What sets you apart? You're not going to win with more products, you're going to win with customer service, environment, design thinking, and a human centered approach to business.
You're not going to win with more products, you're going to win with customer service, environment, design thinking, and a human centered approach to business.