Experiences vs possessions…what does this really mean?
There is no arguing that the world is changing and the reasons for these changes are debated far and wide. Many people say that the rate of change being faced by today’s society is greater than ever before but this is a bold claim. Within the last century, the world was recovering from the effects of 2 World wars, numerous financial crashes, as well as some of the biggest technological advances ever seen by humankind. Whilst the rate of these advances are on an upward spiral, it could be argued that people today kind of expect them. We know that Apple, Microsoft or DJI to name a few, are going to continue developing technology that makes our lives easier, whether this is through health, communication or travel.
But does this expectation take the edge off it?
The other impact of the first half of the 20th century, meant that people were craving something normal. The desire to have somewhere to call home filled with their possessions became paramount. Access to new products was on the increase and spending power grew substantially. Hence the norm became house ownership, an increasing amount of material possessions from cars to household appliances to jewellery.
So why have things changed?
There is an argument that for many the dream of owning their own house is and will remain simply that, a dream. House prices in cities across the globe are meaning that more and more people are renting, sharing houses with friends or colleagues or relying on the goodwill of mum and dad for longer than ever before.
However, the way people view these material possessions is also changing. So much in modern life is about the experience and the desire to share these experiences across whatever social platform is in favour on that day, is arguably part of the driving force behind this. Brands are also recognising that consumers will no longer simply buy their product because they are told to. They need to connect with it and experience what their life would be like if they owned it. Restaurants now offer fully immersive experiences and part of a brand’s strategy is built around the experience a customer receives whether in a digital format or walking through the door of a shop.
Travel brands are no different. The rise in experiential travel has been huge in the last decade or so with people craving a way to experience something that few others have had the pleasure. People now choose to live with locals, eat with locals and use this as way to gain an understanding of how different people go about their daily lives.
But this doesn’t just apply to the younger generations. Parents are seeing value in these experiences with their children over the latest toy or games console and recognising the benefits of exposing their children to different cultures and traditions at a young age. Retirees are less worried about leaving large estates to their children and instead of spending this inheritance on their children and families when they can, allowing them to share in the experience. The rise of the multi-generational family is a prime example of this.
The moments we enjoy become part of us
Research shows that one of the biggest drivers for this change in attitude is the realisation that buying things is a short term high and the more you buy, the shorter this high may last. Whilst experiences are also fleeting and in most cases only last for a fixed period, the moments we enjoy become part of us. For some experiences the impact of these won’t fade with time and your identity, personality and passion will be shaped by the feelings that you get through the places you have been, the lessons you have learned and the memories you have accumulated.
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Wikipedia describes FOMO (Fear of missing out) as “a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent”. This social anxiety is characterized by “a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing”. FOMO is also defined as a fear of regret, which may lead to a compulsive concern that one might miss an opportunity for social interaction, a novel experience, a profitable investment, or other satisfying events. In other words, FOMO perpetuates the fear of having made the wrong decision on how to spend time since one “can imagine how things could be different”.
This fear of making the wrong decision on how to spend time, can arguably be seen as a driver in the rise of social media where platforms are designed to show you how other people are living their lives, triggering a desire to copy or at times better these other people. The way society views this trend is changing as social platforms are starting to react, Instagram recently hiding the number of likes for example.
Feel more enriched by the world around you
There is no doubting that changes in how society reacts to social channels are coming but what these changes remain to be seen. What is unlikely to change is the desire that people have to feel more enriched by the world around us, more immersed in it and more aware of how they can have an impact on it.
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The way we travel will develop and change but the need to get out there and see the world and experience it for yourself will not and age will not be a determining factor in this.