As it is the season to give, and most notably the season to give things, I was surprised to see the number and range of experiences as gifts available on the market this year. I have seen them before as up-and-coming gifts, but this year there seem to be more of them, and greater interest. In one of the shops I visited (a bookshop), I overheard two conversations where family members were discussing which experiences to give as gifts this Christmas.
This shouldn’t come as any surprise. There has long been a trend of packaging services, and it could be described as a natural consequence of the experience economy. However, the strength of the growth is surprising, and the range of packages available is impressive.
One of the largest organizations is the smartbox organisation (link) which has branches all over the world. I think it is interesting that they use the term box as a key part of their experience, making the experience tangible.
One of the Danish providers is Bellevue Box (link). They are a young company with fast growth, and have been classed as a Gazelle fast track company in Denmark.
This package markets itself with a richer experience as a focus, using the Danish term for experience (oplevelse) and a less utilitarian packaging design. In terms of expectation management, the Danish solution provides an expectation of a richer experience.
I think these experience gifts are an interesting reflection on the move from products to services in society, and their growth shows that our culture is perhaps moving away from physical gifts towards tokens for experiences. It might be a logical intersection of the gift voucher meets the experience economy, or something more basic at work. I think the latter, since it could be seen as the ultimate expression of “its the thought that counts”, since it is the thought that is packaged and given, rather than a voucher as a proxy for a physical gift.
I think that the interesting things about packaging all of these experiences is that there are multiple actor collaborations that need to be in place to make a package work. Something I am curious about, is how far along the customer journey the package suppliers are involved. Do they request feedback regarding the final experience, or are they just interested in the point of sale? To find out, I think I will have to wait and see if anybody gifts me an experience this Christmas (hint hint).