Thursday, 12 November 2009

From Experience to Transformation

Today we have the great honor of having the first guest post here at Lonelydonkey! The author is my (almost homonym) friend Simone Moriconi. Enjoy!

For a firm, to create an experience means to make the product alive, to make its identity visible through a sensorial and emotional involvement of customers (Pine and Gilmore, 2000). We know that some product categories are suitable in nature for experience strategies, such as sport activities, travels, cars and motorbikes and so on…Some products and services have a real experience DNA. That means that after having used it, we remind that experience positively, we tell other people with fervour what happened to us and we keep those happenings in memory for a long time. The fact is that in our everyday lives we often find ourselves facing advertisings that present something as “true experience”. It is noticeable that a lot of companies just use this approach to enrich their value proposition, as every object or action could basically be “experientiable”. But we know that, for instance, it’s impossible to have an experience in using our hair shampoo, or wearing our brand new shoes. We can feel positive sensations but it’s not something that change us.

A real experience is a big change, it’s something that transforms us, since after having tried it we don’t feel the same as before. Furthermore, an experience is something absolutely specific, which is lived by a definite person in a well definite moment (Codeluppi, 2007). So, each experience is lived differently according to the single customer, since we are diverse, we have different mentalities, background and past occurrences.

Then, we must switch the concept: what a true experience must give is not a simple feeling, but a real transformation of the individual. According to Pine and Gilmore (2000) firms should create “positive changes in the individual’s sphere” (physical, mental, aptitude) through the development of strong and long-time relationships with customers. The more is possible to generate proximity with them, the more companies have the basis for building authentic experiences.

In business we find a lot of actors which don’t present their products as an experience, but actually offer it. Facebook is the most emblematic case: people have found new ways of communicating, playing, contacting friends and organizing meetings in a very efficient way (less time and less money). They spend their time doing different activities than before. Their life is no longer the same. They have been revolutionized by it. Is it not a real transformation?

Another example is the university. Students start their studies at the early age of 19 and graduate at 24/25. University is their point of reference for at least three or four years of their lives. They enter in the process without having clear ideas on their future and they go out (luckily) with a job, or anyway with a precise idea of how their existence will go on. Academic and life experiences shape them, changing their view of the world and inserting them in a life-long network of people. Professors teach them how to analyse articles, books and speeches. They give them a method and new perspectives to evaluate happenings around them. Travels abroad and exchange projects catapult them in a completely new environment where they discover new cultures and languages. Universities transform students following them through an irreversible path of life. From this point of view, the student becomes the product to be transformed, with all its strategic implications.

However, it seems that few universities realized to have this huge potential so far. Some of them do a lot of communication activities and initiatives in order to involve students and grow them up - especially for what concerns contacts with companies and career opportunities - but none of them implement a complete and explicit strategy of experiential marketing. The guidelines of the Customer Experience Management suggested by Schmitt (2003) should be applied even by that big range of firms that provide experiences without having consciousness of that. And those that sell commodities should choose a softer line of communication in order not to create great expectations that they will never be able to fulfil.


Codeluppi V. (2007), “La dimensione spaziale della marca”, in M. Ferraresi, P. Parmigiani (a cura di), L’esperienza degli spazi di consumo, Franco Angeli, Milano, pp. 11-18.

Pine B.J., Gilmore J.H. (2000), L’economia delle esperienze, Etas, Milano.

Schmitt B.H. (2003), Customer Experience Management, Hoboken John Wiley&Sons, NJ.