A snapshot of the UK’s experience economy in 2017


It seems incredible that it is coming up to 20 years since Joseph Pine and James Gilmore first introduced the idea of the “Experience Economy” in 1998.

Pine & Gilmore argued businesses and brands which create memorable experiences for customers can differentiate their products and services from competitors, and create added value through memories.

But what’s the state of the UK’s experience economy in 2017?


Just how widespread is consumer demand for ‘experiences’? And what are the most important things marketers need to understand when creating their own engaging and authentic experiences?

These were some of the questions we set out to answer recently in our “Influence of Experience” research of 1,000 UK consumers aged 18-40.

Most popular entertainment experiences of 2017

Despite the plethora of streaming TV and film content available these days, it seems our passion for the live experience of cinema remains undiminished. In fact, 7 out of 10 UK consumers have been to the cinema at least once in the last 12 months – making it the most popular entertainment experience overall.

Music and theatre experiences also rank highly, with 40% of consumers having been to a music gig, 33% to the theatre and 27% to an outdoor festival in the last year.

Interestingly, almost 1 in 4 UK consumers have experienced virtual reality in the last year – more than have taken part in an organised sporting event, such as a bike ride, run or triathlon (17%).


Our research also found that experience of virtual reality (22%) was almost twice as popular as augmented reality (13%). It will be interesting to see how this evolves with the emergence of Apple’s built in AR features in its new iPhone 8 and iPhone X as well as the launch of new VR platforms like Google Daydream.

The rise of the ‘Experiencer’

But where our research got particularly interesting was when we drilled down to look into the habits and preferences of people with a strong thirst for experiences – a segment we dubbed ‘The Experiencers.’

We discovered that Experiencers were on average around 2 to 2.5 times more likely than mainstream consumers to have taken part in any experience. In the last 12 months, almost half of Experiencers (44%) have experienced virtual reality, two thirds have been to a music gig (67%) and 44% have taken part in a pop-up brand experience.


There was also a marked difference between The Experiencers and other consumers when it came to the frequency of taking part in experiences. In fact, 70% of The Experiencers had taken part in individual experiences more than 10 times in the last 12 months, compared to just 24% of mainstream consumers.

Key characteristics of ‘Experiencers’

The powerful micro-influence of Experiencers is something all brands should take note of.

Our research found that Experiencers were three times as likely as mainstream consumers to tell many people in their personal and social networks (33% v 12%).  One in five Experiencers will tell as many people as they can about great experiences.


So understanding the demographics of Experiencers is important. Amongst our sample of 18-40 year olds, we discovered that Experiencers are more likely to be male, aged 25-34, married or in a relationship, have children and most likely to live in London, the South East and the North West.

Building brands in the evolving experience economy

It’s clear from our research that the UK’s experience economy continues to thrive.  Demand for fresh experiences – both traditional and tech-based – shows no signs of slowing. Brands which can successfully integrate their brands with imaginative entertainment experiences in new, authentic ways have much to gain in terms of winning trust, engagement and recommendation.

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Author bio


I'm an award-winning entrepreneur, a passionate business mentor, and I believe that great things can happen when we work together to help others.