Customer Brand Experience: The Non-Commodity Approach

I recently thumbed through my iPhone photos and saw 5-10 multiples of the same picture. This issue has bloated my entire photo library over the past year. How many versions of a sunset or me in a canoe do I need? These duplicates seem identical and are clearly a remnant of me trying to curate the perfect picture for social media. How embarrassing. Yikes.

The good news and bad news is that I am not alone. Many of us used to take pictures to capture special moments in our lives so we could look back later at fond memories. Now, we all take pictures to show off our experiences to friends and strangers in hopes of winning their attention and likes. If you take a look at collective social content, you’ll see that it’s mostly about experiences. And there lies the lesson: brands that equip customers to share experiences possess a powerful hedge against commoditization. 

How does a brand make sure the experiences it provides to consumers are not de-valued? It can get tough when the need for scale runs up against the needs of the ever-more-narcissistic consumer. I look to these three disparate companies. Each provides experiences consumers can use as social fuel while protecting their brands from commoditization.three disparate companies. Each provides experiences consumers can use as social fuel while protecting their brands from commoditization.   



Yeti: Values-led

Yeti’s outdoor products (you’ve probably seen their premium coolers) reflect its ethos—a passionate appreciation for adventure and true understanding of the serious outdoor enthusiast. Yeti has a growing cult following, whom I suspect (and hope) don’t solely care about using their experiences to boost their social media standing. Their love of these products is real. The outdoor experiences people tag with #yeti put my canoe selfies to shame. I expect it’s only a matter of time before mild-medium outdoor enthusiasts start investing in Yeti products for their quality and cachet. Yeti’s strong core values will scale well and will allow people to appreciate and show off their experiences. 

Rebel Hospitality: First to tech innovations

Rebel Hospitality is serious about catering to the tech- and social content-savvy at its Acme Hotel Company property. There is an instagrammable moment or a swarm check-in worthy of public recognition everywhere you turn. It was among the earliest hotels to offer keyless entry and the first to install Amazon Echo as a working, in-room amenity. Acme has wireless audio systems for a stellar in-room music experience. I’m looking forward to borrowing one of the free Apple Watches and the Snapchat Spectacles the hotel provides to use around town. The hotel delivers experience and social content opportunities to their guests without pushing them down their throat. Acme is smart enough to use consumer-generated content (now table stakes) as the main content on their website.  

Under Armour: Highly Useful Lifestyle App 

Everyone has talked about Under Amour’s rise to consumer experience and innovation royalty.  What once was an apparel brand for the hard-core athlete now offers unique experiences to those who enjoy living an active lifestyle using best-in-breed products. The Under Armour acquisition of MyFitnessPal was a sure-fire way to enable consumers to share personal journeys and experience with the brand. With the backing of Under Amour, you can share your daily nutrition, workout schedule, weight loss and fitness goals with your friends and the world. Under Armour has created a 360 experience and a platform for loyal followers to shout about it. The MyFitnessPal connection helps protect the Under Armour brand from commodity status. 

Living the values of your niche consumer. Being a first-adopter of tech innovations. Cracking the lifestyle app code. None of these are easy to do. But what brand aspires to become a commodity?

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