June 2013, article published in El Periódico de Catalunya

The story economy

A few weeks ago, I was writing an article about how at one Starbucks they don’t sell coffee, but margin, thanks to experience marketing. This allowed them to create differentiation and effectively construct margin. Ok, so we can go a step further. The material possession of things is changing.

Do you know those websites for renting a car from a person rather than a rental agency? MovoMovo or RelayRides, among others. Check them out. On one of them, for example, you can rent a Jaguar convertible belonging to Alfred in Manchester for a reasonable hourly rate. The contract also includes insurance for the renter of the vehicle. The idea is no longer to own the car but to use it only sometimes and above all be able to rely on it.

Increasingly the idea of creating experiences is closely related to the idea of being able to tell stories. Think of a trip. The important thing isn’t to take it, but to live the experience and tell about it. I think that postcards were a precursor to social networks (like Twitter but with stamps). Or do you think that we asphalt animals enjoy going to the jungle to suffer?

If it were prohibited to tell many people, people would stop taking absurd trips to see the sunrise from the hills of the Sahara desert and tourism to nearby locales would increase.

So this experience marketing model is growing exponentially with the development of social networks, and shows no signs of stopping. Not long ago a friend took a road trip in the United States, and it was not necessary for me to ask him how it went and show me the photos. He posted live online during the trip with his updates in a “breaking news” style that his friends could comment on.

What brands will win in this environment? Those that understand two changes: the first, that the concept of possession may not mean exactly having the goods in your possession, but acquiring them as a service. As I mentioned at the beginning regarding the Jaguar, did you know that you can rent art by the month or high-end shoes and bags for a party? And that the music on your iPod is not yours, it’s just rented?

The second point: the idea is not that brands tell us their stories but that they contribute to their consumers’ storytelling thanks to brands.

An example: Speaking with another IESE professor, he told me that the youngsters nowadays are going out at night (as always) but coming home earlier (this seems like good news). However, they do return earlier to dedicate the last hours of the night to retelling the night’s story on social media.

Can you imagine the opportunities that this gives to your local fashion outlet? Or the drinks (alcoholic or otherwise) of these groups? Or for music groups? Or for your…?


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