The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage Hardcover – Apr 1 1999
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Sometime during the last 30 years, the service economy emerged as the dominant engine of economic activity. At first, critics who were uncomfortable with the intangible nature of services bemoaned the decline of the goods-based economy, which, thanks to many factors, had increasingly become commoditized. Successful companies, such as Nordstrom, Starbucks, Saturn, and IBM, discovered that the best way to differentiate one product from another--clothes, food, cars, computers--was to add service.
But, according to Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, the bar of economic offerings is being raised again. In The Experience Economy, the authors argue that the service economy is about to be superseded with something that critics will find even more ephemeral (and controversial) than services ever were: experiences. In part because of technology and the increasing expectations of consumers, services today are starting to look like commodities. The authors write that "Those businesses that relegate themselves to the diminishing world of goods and services will be rendered irrelevant. To avoid this fate, you must learn to stage a rich, compelling experience."
Many will find the idea of staging experiences as a requirement for business survival far-fetched. However, the authors make a compelling case, and consider successful companies that are already packaging their offerings as experiences, from Disney to AOL. Far-reaching and thought-provoking, The Experience Economy is for marketing professionals and anyone looking to gain a fresh perspective on what business landscape might look like in the years to come. Recommended. --Harry C. Edwards
"A wise, deep, and enlightening book." -- Toronto Globe and Mail, May 5, 1999
"Most persuasive are the authors' exhortations to the retail and service industries, whose efforts are most at risk of commoditization and who have the best opportunity to turn their wares into experiences." -- Business Week, June 7, 1999
"Pine and Gilmore do make an intriguing case. In particular, they implicitly challenge two ideas that have recently hardened into conventional wisdom: that giving away your product is the path to profit, and that casually clad tech-heads who inhale pizza and who write code until dawn represent the future of work." -- Fast Company, April 1999
"The Experience Economy, with its own well-developed theme and enriching examples, may transform more than a few managers." -- Technology Review, May-June 1999
"This is a good look at how every business is morphing into show business...just creating a product and waiting for the world to come to your door is not going to cut it." -- Jesse Berst, ZDNet (for Wired), July 1999
"This is a seminal work, a book that presents new ideas--and uses old ideas in new ways--to change the reader's perceptions and expectations." -- National Productivity Review, Winter 1999
Top Customer Reviews
At first, I was put off by the notion of the Internet as "the greatest force for commoditization known to man." This is only true when the net is seen as an extension of the broadcast model: think TV. But that's the wrong approach, as the authors later make clear: "Cyberspace is a great place for such experiences, but many businesses still don't get it. They're heading into the commoditization trap, trying to figure out how to better sell their company's goods and services over the World Wide Web, when in fact most individuals surf the Net for the experience itself."
E-commerce as performance art, I love it! So step right up, boys and girls, and get your ticket to the Pine & Gilmore Masque. The show's just about to begin!
Disney is their hero, and with good cause: Disneyland and Disneyworld continue to raise the bar on entertainment experience. But as the authors point out, experiences are to be found everywhere -- in customer service, a TV ad, the way people work together, even a cup of coffee. And in the commercial future, experience will be king.
The premise and the execution of THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY are equally invigorating. Pine and Gilmore identify existing examples of experiential design -- and then they go one better, with prescriptions for how to do it yourself. Excellent. So many authors are content merely to reveal The Truth. Pine and Gilmore want you and me to apply their philosophy and start changing the world. They additionally apply some moral precepts that this reader found stirring, to ensure that if change is to come, it will be positive.
THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY is easy to read but not simplistic and has just the right amount of tables and charts to support and highlight the authors' position.
Most business books get read only half-way through. Begin THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY, and you'll not only read it cover to cover, you'll carry it with you as a reference. Everytime you try out something to buy, in a shop, online, or simply in your head, Pine and Gilmore will be speaking to you. Like Jimi Hendrix before you, they'll be asking: "But are you...experienced?"
Pine & Gilmore explain The Experience Economy; Wolf calls it The Entertainment Economy. Schmitt suggests that Experiential Marketing creates or sustains demand for this New Economy, however it is named. For all of these authors, "work" should be viewed as "theatre" and every business should be viewed as a "stage." If they are correct (and I believe they are), the quality of sensory experience is critically important. That is to say, it is no longer sufficient to offer high-quality goods or services for sale at competitive prices. Most (if not all) goods and services have become commodities. Competing on price alone seldom succeeds...especially against those which have superior purchasing power. Competing on quality alone succeeds only for those who offer what no one else has. The challenge is to achieve differentiation. According to Pine & Gilmore, this challenge is best met by understanding what the Experience Economy is (and isn't) as well as how it works; only then, thus informed, can an organization (almost literally) function as a theatre company: formulating a script which has both an exciting story line and interesting characters; assigning roles to those who have the appropriate talents; and then conducting rigorous rehearsals. Finally, it's "show time"!
Pine & Gilmore observe, "Since all commerce is moral choice, every business is a stage for glorifying something. Who or what does your business glorify? Your answer may not help you accept what is next, but it will certainly help guide what you do today." At its best, live theatre can delight, amuse, excite, inform and even inspire those who experience it. Why cannot it also be true of business relationships? Of course it can. It is certainly true of those organizations which prosper. Southwest Airlines is but one example. Its CEO once observed:
"I keep telling [those interested in Southwest Airlines] that the intangibles are far more important than the tangibles in the competitive world because, obviously, you can replicate the tangibles. You can get the same airplanes. You can get the same ticket counters. You can get the same computers. But the hardest thing for a competitor to match is your culture and the spirit of your people and their focus on customer service because that isn't something you can do overnight and it isn't something you can do without a great deal of attention every day in a thousand different ways. That is why I say that our employees are our competitive protection."
Kelleher's comments are relevant to virtually all organizations which now struggle to succeed in the New Economy (however it is named). To understand this economy, to understand what it requires of your own organization, I urge you to read The Experience Economy...as well as The Entertainment Economy and Experiential Marketing.
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