Intersecting Minds: Education, Business and Technology at the North Carolina State Jenkins Graduate School of Management

The Experience Economy | February 13, 2009

This morning our class attended a guest presentation by James Gillmore. Mr. Gillmore is the author of “The Experience Economy,” which argues that the next economic evolution will come when our service-based economy moves toward an experience-based economy. As manufacturing jobs continue to dry up and services become increasingly commoditized, it will be important to differentiate based upon a “memorable experience” as Mr. Gillmore described it. More information can be found here:

One of the more interesting points that came from this discussion revolved around shifting commoditized goods to a service-based business model. Mr. Gillmore suggested the easiest way to do this would be through a leasing or time-share plan. For example, if we want to drive a nicer car, we lease it through a dealership. What if this concept were applied to other commoditized goods? Could you lease a pair of sunglasses for example? Or a nice watch?

The execution of leasing ties directly to the concept of time-sharing. Most of the stuff we buy doesn’t get used nearly as often as it could be. Time-sharing would be a way to increase the utilization of products, and a way for consumers to expand the number of goods available to them. It’s an interesting idea, but is it feasible? Here’s the question I had for Mr. Gillmore: “Part of the value Americans derive from goods they consume is the idea that, 1. it’s new, and 2. it belongs to them. The idea of time-sharing or leasing commodities destroys both of those tenets. Do you believe that Americans are ready to alter this mindset? And do you believe the current economic environment might be accelerating those changes?”

Mr. Gillmore argued that yes, the economy is changing the public’s purchasing habits, but there remains a mental barrier to consuming used goods. As the economy continues to weaken, I think it will be interesting to see just how quickly people adjust their spending, and how much opportunity this creates for the type of business model Mr. Gillmore espouses.

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