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 In The Experience Economy, the authors argue that the service economy is about to be superseded with something that critics will find even more ephemeral (and controversial) than services ever were: experiences.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
"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
This book scared the hell out me. The pitch is that consumers are increasing in complexity. They want everything from simple commodities to manufactured goods to what the authors call experiences immersive, richly textured commercial events. And fast-paced business types better follow or they'll be left in the dust.
The patron saint here is Walt Disney: Coffee shops should focus on the coffee experience, the authors suggest, while restaurants need to realize that the music and the ambiance eatertainment, as the authors label it are as important as the food.
The book is well written and I liked its fanatical conviction. The authors cheerfully acknowledge that even the most sacred experiences can be turned into a fast buck for faster companies. (They point out that many Americans now seek advice not from their priests and religious leaders, but from paid "spiritual coaches.") I'd love to think this is an elaborate spoof on the absurdity of late-state capitalism, but I'm afraid Pine and Gilmore are absolutely serious when they conclude that "The Consumer Is the Product." God help us all.
Michael Parsons -- From The Industry Standard