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The experience trend: Is it a more practical way of living?

experiences - photography

Photo by Andre Furtado

For many generations, before the millenials were born, owning expensive things was the most ‘accurate’ representation of what a person had achieved in life and a clear sign of social status. However, with the appearance and fast development of the internet, this perspective has completely changed. Over the past few years, millennials have shown quite different consumption patterns compared to previous generations. They seem to prefer spending on experiences rather than owning things. And the most interesting thing is that people from the previous generations have started to adopt this way of lifestyle. So what is this trend all about, and is it in fact a more practical way of living?

experiences - photography
Photo by Andre Furtado

What happened with ‘the more things you own, the merrier you are’?

You see, within the last two decades, humanity has been experiencing an evolution in consciousness. Born between the 1980s and the mid 90’s, the so-called ‘millennials’ have lived through an economic crisis as either teenagers or young adults. The recession has led to a different attitude to what it means to ‘own’ something. Since then, there is a similar ambivalence towards ownership in all sorts of areas, from buying cars to listening to music or the way we consume entertainment.

However, what needs to be pointed out is that nowadays people have a decreased desire to own things or buy them through traditional channels. Instead, they would prefer investing their income in memorable experiences, rather than just buying stuff like older generations. This new attitude wave towards ownership is spreading rapidly, and more and more people are deciding to go along with it.

Why are people nowadays choosing experiences over things?

These days, the media seems to be constantly trying to persuade people that buying things will make them happier. But a simple look at the facts can show us that this isn’t completely true. Since the 90s ‘kids’ have figured this out, here are a few reasons why they are choosing to invest in enriching experiences rather than purchasing things.

1.    Experiences make us happier

We couldn’t put this together better than Dr. Gilovich even if we tried to:

“Our experiences are a bigger part of ourselves than our material goods. You can really like your material stuff. You can even think that part of your identity is connected to those things, but nonetheless, they remain separate from you.  In contrast, your experiences really are part of you. We are the sum total of our experiences.”

Research has shown that in the long run, experiences make people happier than possessions. This is due to the fact that whenever we buy a new object, the initial joy fades over time as we are used to seeing it every day. On the other hand, experiences continue to provide happiness through memories long after the event happened. Besides, what do you think that people would be more interested in hearing about: your new laptop or that time you went on an exciting trip?

 2.    Get closer to your friends and family through sharing experiences

What we want to say here is that when people spend money on life experiences, and they often want to take someone them with them. So, most of our life experiences involve other individuals. This way, people are fulfilling their need for social bonding at the same time. Why not double the happiness and take someone on your next trip, tango lesson or concert?

However, note that we are not saying travelling or experiencing things by yourself doesn’t have its advantages. On the contrary, it can prove to be quite beneficial for you.

3.    You know what they say, the things you possess – end up possessing you!

Of course, this is not always true, as it’s necessary to own things, especially those that make our lives easier. But, the idea of the experience trend is to move towards having fewer possessions, those you consider to be unnecessary and only get in your way. It means you should learn to be practical with your choices and the things you buy. Plus, think about all the money you would save! Who wouldn’t want some extra money? Be careful, though. There is a difference between living practically and cutting down on essential things that you can live without, and going to the other extreme – no-possession lifestyle. The experience lifestyle doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t possess anything.

Has anything changed with the appearance of the experience trend?

It most certainly has. The most obvious ‘winners’ of this trend are industries like travel, dining and events. People nowadays are increasingly spending money and time on social events, concerts, travelling, and all kinds of cultural experiences. A life revolving around creating, capturing and sharing moments earned through personal experiences has become the definition of a happy, fulfilled life.

Companies like Airbnb have especially benefited from this growing desire for travelling, dinners and engaging activities. They go beyond the importance of a luxurious accommodation, since it’s all about experiencing the lifestyle and charm of a local culture.

Shopping has changed as well. More and more people shop with a conscience and desire to shop and reward a brand that is giving back to society and nature. This often means buying less, but with good quality. Some people have even ‘surrendered’ to the rental clothes trend, which of course has its advantages.

The motivation behind selecting a certain product or experience is quite different today, too. Consumers aren’t just satisfied with the sense of pride from owning a product. Today, they are more interested in how a product or service connects people to something or someone, if owning it can be worthwhile, and of course – what it says about them.

experiences - pottery
Photo by Courtney Cook

Try the experience trend, here’s what you can do!

1.    Gift someone with a new experience

Instead of opting for a new scarf or watch, go for a new experience for this year’s birthday present of a close friend or family member. A tango lesson for your favourite couple (or even a single friend!), a cooking workshop for the friend that needs it, a day at the spa or a massage, or a terrarium making lesson, the options are limitless! Experiential presents are unique, and you can be sure that your friend or family would love it!

 2.    Invest in a concert or festival tickets

Yes, we know that absolutely every song is available today on Youtube, but the chance to listen to your favourite performer live is truly priceless. So, if they are coming to town, or near you, don’t miss the chance to buy their concert ticket. Even if they are not performing near you, here is an excellent excuse to visit a new place for your next vacation. Double the fun if you bring your loved one or best friend if they share the same taste in music. Or perhaps purchase concert tickets and surprise them? What a fantastic gift idea!

3.    Do you have a bucket list?

If you want to try something you haven’t tried before, why not start today? Get a piece of paper and a pen and write down all the things you want to try. It’s never too late, and the options are limitless. If you need help, there are many blogs and magazines out there to give you ideas on what you can do on your next trip. Have you ever thought of spending the night at the Everest Base Camp? Or hiking the Milford Track in New Zealand? The world has amazing places to offer, it’s up to you to choose. 

4.    Do you really need that new t-shirt? This time ‘buy’ a new experience

Is there something you wanted to try for a long time, but always found excuses not to do it? Perhaps a lesson in photography, arranging flowers, lettering, drawing lessons or learn how to play your favourite instrument? Try getting out of your comfort zone, and gift yourself with a new experience. It’s good for the soul. 

5.    Don’t forget to declutter

Although this may not count as an ‘experience’ to many, it will be a new experience to those who never do it. When was the last time you let go of everything you don’t need and gets in your way around your home? Just as we said before, we should let go of the things we don’t really need because the more we possess, eventually it turns out it possesses us. Trust us, there is no better feeling of a neat and organized home, so make sure you declutter your home from time to time.

Valuing experiences over things has indeed become more common nowadays!

It’s a fact – the world is changing and so are the people being raised in it. People no longer spend time to make money to purchase material things which can make a person feel anxious or be taken away from them. Instead, they invest in experiences that improve their emotional wellbeing and can never be taken away. If we try to weigh the two, the results would be clear, they are clearly choosing experiences over things. So, would you join the experience trend?

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