As technology has evolved so has the market for product experiences. In a consumer driven world companies are finding it harder to rely on the returns of a purely product approach. Over the past decade product innovation has led to development of product experiences, creating an immersive or all-encompassing experience which leaves consumers with a sense of closure, excitement and ultimately leading to their loyalty and advocacy.

Taking a look at brands that do product experience well, we can deduce that brands which create a unified experience for their products can now count that experience as possibly their most valuable brand asset and what they’re known for. Red Bull is a prime example of a company going beyond their brand and transforming their energy drink product into a global entertainment brand with ties to sporting competitions, space diving and championships. Their product is now intrinsically linked with and synonymous with adrenaline filled students and the camaraderie and banter that is coupled with the majority of sports.  No one was thinking about a caffeinated energy drink when Felix Baumgartner leaped to earth from space.

It’s clear that it pays to create three dimensional experiences for consumers, but are we forgetting the product first? Or should we now be placing product experiences over the products themselves?

Back to basics

The use of mobiles to search the internet is growing rapidly. Whilst it seems like an obvious fact, it’s typically understated how much mobile influences our daily lives and the nuances that come with it. It is estimated that of the 3.4 million internet users, 80% of them own a smartphone or tablet and 51% of the time use their smartphone device to search the internet. This statistic should be the first part of any product experience strategy but can sometimes be left by the wayside when brainstorming a creative, in-depth and sometimes complex product experience plan.  

Businesses with a heavy reliance on the internet to drive sales, need to ensure they are constantly evolving what they offer and howit is offered, whether in the form of a mobile optimised website or a mobile app. An omnichannel experience is imperative to constantly driving a product experience to where the user typical sits on the internet and statistically, that is on a phone. Another question is, what does omnichannel look like to today’s marketers? Mycustomer covered this topic in-depthly back in 2014, an interesting read if you want to go deeper.

In past few months alone, mobile marketing has certainly stepped up its game with celebrities in the shape of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, James Cordon and Christoph Waltz all appearing in TV adverts for mobile based gaming apps, illustrating the spending power and push for mobile based interaction. These adverts are not only using the power of a celebrity endorsement, they’re also creating a story which spreads across adverts, content, social media and in the gaming app itself.

Who’s doing it well?

Your experience with a product doesn’t end when you buy it, of course not, it’s where it starts. It’s highly likely that it may have started a long while before you even considered buying it and you were slowly coerced by pre-product experience designed to get you to commit. There’s so many examples out there that extend your experience with your product nowadays. One of those is the rise of television recording, seemingly pretty standard technology now but through constant improvement of its product experience Sky now can reaffirm its product every time you record a problem. It is also making constant improvements like the recently released Sky Go, an online web player, jumping on the Netflix bandwagon but using it as an extension of its original product rather than creating a standalone.

Hive is a great example of product experience innovation, a natural partner to products that belong to Internet of Things. Heating systems by Hive don’t just heat up your house, you can adjust the temperature in each room, turn it off or on whilst you’re out, have frost protection when the temperature dips below freezing – which is all controlled by your phone. By creating a seamless experience across all platforms Hive has solved a ‘want’ by creating a hassle-free to dealing with your home central heating.

With Tidel and Apple Music biting at your heels, Spotify has added a feature which has been sorely missed from the music streaming platform which provides endless reaffirmation of your purchase through their Discovery service. This service suggests a playlist of music every week depending on what you’ve listened to the previous week, the more data you feed the algorithm and the more likely to playlist will be accurate.  

Great product experiences tend to solve problems continually and build loyalty to the brand, giving you more insight to the consumer because they will keep coming back, however not all sites can have these ongoing relationships. Take travel sites for example, they aren’t meant for daily usage, and in these cases alternate strategies are used to keep them firmly in our minds. E3 worked with Bristol Airport to develop a cohesive experience when we redesigned their site. By providing simple, quick and seamless navigation across all platforms and devices – moving away from a separate mobile and desktop sites which are time-consuming to update and provide broken and inefficient journeys for the user.

Design for the user, not for brand

Generally speaking, it is estimated 84% of all purchases are based on an emotion and it is brand’s job to trigger this behaviour, but what is more important the products functionality or how the user perceives the product? i.e. the user experience.

In an article posted in 2009 a group of CEO’s from large corporations such as Virgin and Starbucks were asked the simple question of what does your product/brand stand for?

All had slightly differing answers, but what was consistent was none of them mentioned the product, every person based their company on some sort of experience, for example Richard Branson when asked about what Virgin stood for, responded with “fun”, not an airline or music store, but simply fun. 

In 2015 Tom Goodwin wrote an article titled ‘The Battle is for the Customer Interface’, it went viral across the web due to the quote:

“Uber, the world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. Facebook, the world’s most popular media owner, creates no content. Alibaba, the most valuable retailer, has no inventory. And Airbnb, the world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no real estate. Something interesting is happening. All services providers building their brands on experience”

It seems the greatest success stories are not necessarily based on an amazing product. It is based on creating that subconscious, emotional connection to that product and providing a user experience that not only compliments the product, but also makes consumers come back to buy more.

e3 will be looking at the product vs. experience debate at their event The Year of Innovation Marketing on February 25th, click here to register your interest.