I think there may have been a bit of a misunderstanding. So I write this blog in part as clarification, and in part to implore Australian businesses to recognise the opportunity that experiences represent.

The Big Red Group (the business I co-founded in 2017) has produced a white paper on the rising tide of experiences. It outlines the new wave of Millennial purchasing power and how it is driving significant economic growth – both locally and abroad. Yet this is not limited to ‘experiences’ as such – ie the activities that we serve within the group at RedBalloon AU, RedBalloon NZ, and Adrenaline .

The experience economy rather is about emotional connection – it is about how people feel about your brand and what you offer to the world.

The definition of experience: “an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on someone”

‘Experience’ can mean different things to different people. It can mean the experience a customer has on your website or in your store; or the way an employee experiences their time at work. Quite simply, it is about that moment of interaction. It is the human element of business – and the emotional connection created in those moments.


Alongside this understanding of what constitutes an ‘experience’ has been a sizeable shift from the desire of ownership to a more laissez-faire approach around accessing goods and services. Think about the growth of the sharing economy and the concept of ‘no’wnership – global citizens are now, more than ever, happy to share big-ticket items like cars (Uber, Go Get), homes (Air BnB, Couch Surfing, Home Exchange) and even pets (Share My Pet, Dog Share).

Businesses (both online and offline) are being forever impacted by the phenomenon of #AccessOverOwnership. Retailers shift from being in the transaction game: ‘Have I got the right product at the right place for the right price?’ To being in the experience game: ‘Have I got an experience that will engage, entertain and build trust and emotional connection for my business?’

We hear a lot of the ‘customer journey’… and the expectation that customers now have for personalisation, and customisation. There is an expectation that the retailer becomes the curator (as well as the entertainer).

The experience economy is also growing in the time of ‘social proof’. If the experience is not recorded and shared across social media, then perhaps it did not happen…

There was an article published a few months ago “The store is dead long live the store” – what is exciting about this piece is that retailers (both online and offline) are becoming more agile. The reason that many pure-play online stores create a pop-up or open a location at their head office is so they can observe and optimise the customer experience. They want to ‘feel’ the way the customer responds to them in a tangible way, instead of merely observing data points and insights served up by a website analytics tool.

I know myself that often our customer experience executives are the only physical touch point in the process of buying an experience from one of our brands. And whenever I crave insight or understanding about why, how, or what the customer is thinking I make some customer calls. I’ve been doing it since day one.

This works in two ways – the business understands the customer experience, and the customer becomes part of the development of that experience. Whether that is giving product insight and ideas, or providing frank feedback on what they do and don’t like about the business.

Business remains a people game – no matter how many martech, fintech and AI solutions we employ. It is our job to drive the technology based on real customer insights – and that can only come from understanding the customer experience.

Grab a copy of our Experience Economy White Paper and see what will work for you.

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Naomi Simson entrepreneur co-founded The Big Red Group in 2017 which includes brands such as RedBalloon, Adrenaline, IfOnly and Redii.com. She has been blogging for a decade at NaomiSimson.com, is a professional speaker, author of Live What You Love & Ready To Soar, and a “Shark” on business reality show Shark Tank Australia.

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Also published on Medium.

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