Millennials, technology and the experience economy

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How do technology companies meet the needs of a generation set to shape the direction of the world’s economy in the near future? As part of our 2020 Events Disruptor Report, I explored the major growth areas that will shape the way millennials interact with the events industry. 

In 2016, millennials, America’s largest generation by population, became the largest workforce in the US labour market and by 2020 they are forecast to make up 35% of the global workforce. This matters because of their relationship with technology and its advancement. Having grown up alongside technological advancements and innovations they have a better understanding of technology and how best to use its advantages.

It also makes them the generation that will continue to lead technology toward greater heights. They are best able to evaluate innovations in the tech world and they’ll be vocal about whether some new tech hits the mark or not. The entire generation is steering in which direction technology evolves, because of their needs and expectations. They have zero tolerance for bad customer experience, and they expect websites to perform accordingly.

Moreover, mobile platforms are preferred in this generation and any business that isn’t mobile-friendly will start to lose customers. The millennial way of thinking and the need for self-improvement are driving the change in the tech world. Not only that the technological innovations have to capture the attention of the millennial crowd, but they must also excel in functionality in order to be widely accepted. Any category, and this applies to the events industry, that doesn’t adapt to the needs and expectations of millennials, will be less successful.

It is not only their impact on technology that is relevant for event professionals but with a majority of them now in the workforce they currently command an estimated $1.3 trillion in annual consumer spending. The World Data Lab forecasts that the global spending power of millennials will soon be greater than any other generation. As the principal consumer generation, they are set to shape the direction of the world’s economy in the years ahead.

This is also important as they are the drivers behind the experience economy. A staggering 74 percent of Americans prioritise experiences over products. Their focus on experiences is closely related to the growth of the sharing and experience economy. Instead of playing board games at home, they now go to escape rooms. The typical bar experience has been replaced by organised bar crawls, scavenger hunts and distillery tours. Even running has turned into an experience with the growth of novelty races, including 5Ks with bubbles, beer and rock bands. It’s all about having a unique experience and being able to share it with others.

The trend is creating opportunities for start-ups, such as DayBreaker, an early morning weekday rave that hands out protein bars and energy drinks; Night Nation Run, a 5K late-night race; and Diner en Blanc, a dressy pop-up picnic where Guests often spend hundreds of dollars. 

The trend is also forcing established companies to adapt. Macy’s in the US, for instance, is using miniconcerts, yoga classes and cafes to draw consumers through its doors. Crossroads Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Hong Kong SAR, created the popular and emotionally jarring “Refugee Run”, a 75-minute experience in which Guests “become” refugees. In a basement fitted out as a refugee camp and staffed by refugees from around the world, the immersive experience brings adults to tears, creating more empathy than a lecture or article ever could. Crossroads has created further immersive experiences in order to build awareness of global issues, understanding that “when people have stepped, even briefly, into the shoes of others, the conversation changes and they are considerably more motivated to engage”.

Our prediction is that unique experiences and activities will become a major growth area of the events industry and technology will have a major role to play in making it easy and seamless to book and pay for them.

Our 2020 Events Disruptor Report is a collection of articles that explore how and when the emerging trends in technology impact the events industry. To read the full report click here.


Read more about how AI can transform the events industry:

Augmented Reality: Meeting the Needs of Our Hyper-connected World

Machine Learning and AI: Price Trends & Cost Analytics

Delivering the Perfect Event with Artificial Intelligence

The CEO of HeadBox: My 2020s Prediction – AI will transform the events industry

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