Products and Services Are Dead

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Consumed by the new economy, and lack of consumer interest, all products and services have all been replaced by what customers now call “Experiences”.

Calling something a product or service just doesn’t make any sense in the new economy. The description is out of date, the words don’t apply to today’s consumers.

Marketers and sales people need to understand:

You are no longer selling and marketing products and services. You are selling and marketing experiences.

Think about it: The things that we buy and consume, either as individuals or as a corporate entity, are not products. These things are not services.

We buy, acquire, endure and enjoy experiences. Not products. Not services. Experiences.

Welcome to the new economy, where commerce trades on the experience you have, and the experience you provide.

Consider these experiential products:

  • A vacation in Hawai’i
  • A new app for your iPhone
  • Purchasing a new Nissan Altima
  • Attending a play, museum or movie
  • Transitioning to SAP CRM

Which of these are products, and which are services? Answer: None, and all. The old words don’t work anymore; we need to choose new ones if we want to tell a story that’s authentic and complete. And all customers – all consumers – crave authenticity.

You see, no product exists in a vaccum. No service stands alone without products. These things are really events, or experiences, made up of a series of products, services and interactions.

And so many things are outside the scope of either products or services. For example: what if you donate to a non-profit? What about that last iPhone app, or a new piece of software – what is it exactly, product or service?

What we want, what we pay for and what we get can all be summed up in one way: experiences.

Today’s customer (whether a corporation or a person, and by the way they are NOT the same) wants an experience. Perhaps an experience that is fantastic (like visiting the most beautiful place on the planet, Hawai’i) or excruciating (transitioning to SAP CRM, because your CFO chose the low-bidder on the job).

Even a traditional product purchase, like buying a new car, requires a series of events that create an experience that circumvents the “product” (whatever the hell that is, anyway). For example, when you buy a car, unless you have $28,433.00 cash, you are going to need financing. Maybe you will lease the vehicle. Maybe you will talk to the finance manager, or the sales manager, about your options. You go through a series of events and choices; this is all part of the experience of ownership. The most traditional “product” in America (the automobile) gives you an experience. The experience of the purchase, the experience of the service, and the experience of the brand. How does your car make you feel about yourself? Are you comfortable, and do you feel powerful behind the wheel? Those feelings are as real as the tires and the spark plugs – a very real experience, indeed.

“Product” and “service” are incomplete definitions. Consider the experience you want to have, as a consumer or a corporation. And, if you want to reach new customers in new ways, think long and hard about the total customer experience. Services and products alone just aren’t cutting it anymore.

Image courtesy of Hendrik Speck. Used under creative commons license, some rights reserved.

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