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Experience stores

Retail

Let's face it: from the moment human beings turned into avid consumers (moving from defense and protection to enjoyment as their main goal in life), we've been living in an entertainment economy. Which is why it is quite surprising that it took so long for dedicated experience stores to pop up. Take a cue from A Vida E Bela and Signature Days to get started.

Let’s face it: from the moment human beings turned into avid consumers (moving from defense and protection to enjoyment as their main goal in life), we’ve been living in an entertainment economy. Which is why it’s quite surprising that it took so long for dedicated experience stores to pop up. It’s starting now, though: witness Portuguese-based A Vida E Bela, which has turned experiences of a lifetime into a flourishing business. How it works: the gift giver purchases an experience card from A Vida E Bela, which looks like a personalized credit card and can be redeemed for an experience of the gift recipient’s choice, depending on the card’s value. Experiences can be selected from the company’s website or via its call centre, and range from a professional photography session (be a top model for a day) to flying fighter jets over Moscow (top gun for a day). Experience cards or vouchers can be bought as presents, but also make great promotional giveaways and incentives. A Vida E Bela is distributing pre-paid versions by the thousands daily, through incentive programs and nationwide promotions with partners like BP. Proving that the experience business is booming, the company is expanding to Spain and Brazil in 2006, and will even have its own TV show in Portugal. Meanwhile, in the US, Signature Days and Experience Wish are vying for the rapidly growing USD 200 million experience gifts market. Chicago-based Signature Days offers service similar to that of A Vida E Bela, enabling experiences such as trapeze lessons or (in the self-improvement category) hypnosis sessions. Californian Experience Wish caters specifically to women, and sells a combination of experiences and products. From a Marc Jacobs’ knitted sweater to a day of flower arranging with top floral designer Rebecca Cole. Packages are priced from USD 420 (EUR 350 / GBP 230) for the ‘Petite Wish’, to USD 10,000 for the ‘Ultimate Wish’. For more international inspiration, see Total Experience in Australia and Red Letter Days in the UK.

Opportunities

Credit card companies were actually among the first organizations to catch on to this fast growing industry; Diners’ Club recently launched Ultimate Experiences, allowing customers to spend membership points on such experiences as being a rodeo clown for a day, while American Express started up an auction site where Blue Card holders can bid on experiences like meeting Sting backstage. With consumers continuously befuddled by the sheer overload of mass goods, desperately on the look out for riveting and unique experiences, this is a perfect business idea, whether developed as an urban gift outlet or as a well-designed website. Experience stores offer the opportunity to become an aggregator and intermediary in an ever-growing industry (the market for gift giving is USD 250 billion a year in the US alone). Millions of niche providers of unique experiences eagerly await the moment you’ll bundle and promote their services to experienced, experience seeking consumers! A no brainer.

Website: www.avidaebela.com/

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