How is your Utah business responding to the ‘experience’ trend?
When people think of businesses and what their role is in society, it’s likely that top of mind is selling consumer goods. Yet, there is a growing trend — especially among Millennials, but also with Baby Boomers — to want something more than just a material good to take home. Today’s consumer and the upcoming generations are looking for experiences — making memories, embarking on adventures, and sharing what they’ve done and seen with others.
In some ways, consumers seeking opportunities to experience new things instead of purchasing goods is a heartening shift. As the Worldwatch Institute points out, unchecked consumer consumption uses up more of our natural resources, and causes families to accrue more debt, resulting in the need to work more hours to keep pace with the cost of their lifestyle.
A recent article in Utah Business highlights the perspective of experts in tourism related to Beehive State businesses. According to the article, 74 percent of U.S. residents prioritize “experiences over things.” This doesn’t just mean they are buying fewer material things. They also want to share with all their friends, family and contacts what is happening in their lives. This seems to be especially true for the Millennial generation, who are very active on social media platforms, sharing everything that goes on in their lives. Capitalize on this by putting out content that will encourage customers to engage and interact with your brand — we’ll talk more about this in a minute.
Experiencing nature becomes a higher priority
Utah boasts an amazing advantage over other parts of the country when it comes to experiences. The Beehive State is home to some of the most beautiful places on Earth, including The Mighty 5 National Parks — Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands and Arches — and the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest among many, many others.
Jennifer Leaver, a senior tourism analyst with the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, points out that the presence of these one-of-a-kind locations supports local economies in a way that traditional retail does not. Referring to Daggett County, home to Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and Ashley National Forest, Leaver gave the following example:
“If a visitor paid a local Daggett County resident $2,000 for a personal week-long fly fishing trip on the Green River, I would argue that most of that $2,000 would stay in Daggett County. If the same $2,000 was spent at a retail shop in Daggett County where the retail margin (the gross margin a retail business receives when selling goods) is 5 percent, then the retail business owner would keep $100 with the rest likely going out of the county—or state—to pay non-local suppliers.”
Building community as well as profits
A big part of selling an experience is appealing to natural human emotion, and people’s desire to see what’s new and trendy. As with word of mouth in the past, seeing friends and family post their experiences on social media often leads to asking for details —where were you? Where did you see that? How did you get there? Where should I stop along the way? What would you do the same if you went again? What would you do different?
Utah is a place that can and does offer personal once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Andrew Dash Gillman, creative and content manager for Utah Office of Tourism, suggests speaking to people’s innate inclination to feel what others feel through experiences within your business’s community.
“The best memories are those that come from more intimate experiences. Words like transformation or reawakening come from unplugging, getting out of your car, exerting yourself―getting that appreciation because you put something into it,” Gillman said.
He related his own experience with this about a visit to Boulder, Utah, recently. After camping along the Burr Trail, he recalled the thrill of falling asleep at night under the stars and then waking up the next day and going to a local restaurant after the trip.
“Those are the memories that stick with me, because I push my limits and because of the extra effort that goes into preparing for visiting these special places,” he said.
Ways you can provide a worthy experience
You don’t need to be a business that caters to tourists or the outdoors to try and sell a shareable, impactful experience.
Melissa Kinney, social media manager for Utah Office of Tourism, said that any business can find a way to focus on their own community’s personal touches.
“Curating user-generated content or establishing a brand ambassador program are great examples of this,” Kinney said. “There are many possibilities available in the social space, but it’s important to remember why we are all on social media in the first place, and that is to connect with each other.”
This can translate to finding and sharing the personal, real stories of the town in which you live, instead of just relying on advertising images of what it is you sell. It’s an idea that most people are used to — seeing something that isn’t slick or a sales gimmick, but instead see themselves in and relate to that much easier.
“You want to put out content that makes people feel that people like them are already enjoying and benefiting from your product,” said Matt Peters, founder of Pandemic Labs.
It’s also important to post experiences to share regularly, and it’s important to engage with your own customers about what they are interested in. If you ask customers to interact, be sure to interact back. And gauge the responses. What are your followers responding to?
SBA loans can help you achieve great business results in Utah
If there’s an idea to provide something new for your business that you have looming but you need some extra capital to make it happen, one consideration is a small business loan.
First Utah Bank has a dedicated department for SBA loans that can help you navigate the specifics of this type of financing. It’s a great option for business owners when traditional or conventional bank financing isn’t available or is difficult to obtain.
There are specific needs for which an SBA loan can be used, but everyone of them makes sense when it comes to strengthening your business. Among the uses are expanding or refreshing your facilities, consolidating debt to bring in more money, financing exports, or managing cash flow during peak buying seasons.
Our employees at First Utah Bank are experts at helping you change and grow your Utah business in order to find new customers or keep the ones to which you are providing great experiences. Find out more about what we have to offer at our website, or call us at 801-308-2265.