Three brands ready for the Experience Age
Welcome to a four-part series looking at how brands can ensure they are part of the Experience Age
Part 4: Three examples of brands embracing the Experience Age
A fascinating example of a company adopting this experience-led strategy is Cadillac. BOOK by Cadillac is an innovative new way of car ownership – a sort of deluxe car club for those who neither wish to buy, lease or car-share. For customers, they say, ‘who value experience over possession’.
Working with FutureBrand, Cadillac realised firstly that the Gen X and Y luxury customer associated the brand with their parents (i.e. negatively). Secondly, Cadillac observed that the digitally savvy audience base was already rejecting traditional forms of ownership and instead embracing the on-demand sharing economy, such as Uber, Netflix and Deliveroo.
The car subscription club (with, apparently, white-gloved concierges who deliver the vehicle to your door) is available for a monthly fee. Customers (although I bet they are referred to as clients) get to keep any of the fleet for as long or as little as they like. Imagine, this weekend I’m going to swan around in a convertible, then a swanky limo-style car for visiting agencies in the week and an SUV for a weekend in the countryside. Insurance, taxes, maintenance, etc, is all dealt with by Cadillac. Just what the cash-rich, time-poor luxury consumer wants.
BOOK was only launched in New York in February this year, so it’s not clear whether this is the future for Cadillac, but at least the brand is trying to find a new way towards consumerism for these audiences and a continued market for its products.
The whisky brand has created an exciting prototype using technology in an innovative way for its elite brand, Blue Label. The tech has two very different benefits. The first is the protection of the product’s quality down the supply chain and the second provides customers with an exclusive user experience.
By putting printed sensor tags on the bottle’s seal, the company is able to tell when and where the bottle is opened, thereby detecting any potential counterfeiting and/or tampering with the bottle. Consumers are able to have 100% confidence that they have bought the genuine article. This is particularly desirable when you consider a bottle retails at approx. £130.
This technology also allows the brand to add customer experience at point of opening. Via an app, the customer ‘unlocks’ exclusive expert advice when the seal is broken. You won’t know what it is until you do it. So the experience of drinking the whisky is complemented by a continuing relationship with the brand post-purchase. And the brand knows exactly when and where you are having your first swig or two.
Rapha is primarily a cycle and cycle gear manufacturer and retailer. But in order to differentiate itself in a crowded market, it has launched a global cycling initiative, which becomes, in turn, a new income stream: a fee-based membership club based around its stores.
Members are invited to group road cycle events, both local and global; access to purchase limited edition bikes; hire options for Rapha bikes; and a subscription to the biannual magazine Mondial to list just a few benefits. Its stores feature upmarket cafes, which sell related branded items such as coffee sets, books and skincare.
In a way, it is an echo of what Cadillac is doing but with the added ambition of creating a community. The lifestyle that the club (and, therefore, the brand) offers is aspirational yet inclusive. It’s all about that recognition of the shared passion of road cycling – truly an experience rather than a series of branded products.
All of these brands have stopped to consider the customers’ lifestyle, brand expectations and context. As a result, they have created a desirable pull strategy that flatters and delivers.