From Alternative Virtual Realities, to Seeking the Latest Thrill — How is Our Hunger for Experience Shaping the World?

What makes us tick, as human beings, has certainly undergone some changes! Way back when, for our ancestors, the need for the basics — things like animal hides for making clothing, and wheat for turning into bread — dominated daily life. This was an Agrarian Economy, focused on commodities and staying alive. This status quo rolled on for millennia, until the industrial revolution kicked things up a notch.

Suddenly, we could turn commodities into shiny new products, like fancy clothing and delicious pre-made dishes, for which we were happy and able to pay more. The shift soon delivered the ushering in of the Service Economy. We went from buying flour (a commodity), to buying bread (a product), to having bread baskets with our meal in a restaurant (the service experience), in a relatively short space of time.

The Rolling Out Of Experience Economy

Before the era of the busy and highly competitive digital marketplace, in which we buy so much today, the service economy was built upon product quality and value for money. Then something strange began to happen. As the internet realm delivered accessibility to the world, we began investing not only in stuff, but in the experience that came with it. Products began to have a sense of identity associated with them, and the customer experience became adventurous and exploratory.

Not only that, but the millennial generation started to view experience as more important than possessed things. So much so that 72% of them would rather spend money on a life event than new stuff. Welcome to the Experience Economy! So, what does this mean today, and how will it shape tomorrow?

The Delicate Dance Between IRL And The Instagram Effect

When we talk about modern living, the narrative is dominated by criticism of our dopamine addicted, screen obsessed selves, ravaged by social media induced anxiety. Ouch! While concerns over digital social solitude do warrant attention and debate, it is important to recognise that our technology laden lives are still evolving, and it might be worth seeing where the chips fall. With a little deeper delving, it becomes evident that the changes afoot are clearly complicated, and still in metamorphosis.

Consumers juggling the existential anxiety that comes with perpetual inter-connectedness are turning to IRL (in real life) experiences as a meaningful escape. From taking up adventure sports, to seeking out unusual opportunities, authentic moments are valued highly. There is, however, a new element to the modern experience, as the potential to create our autobiographical narratives is prioritised simultaneously. Memorable moments are deemed more meaningful when they present photo opportunities, and a story that can be shared! Self defining through experience-capture is the next-gen way to seek social acceptance.

Investing In Alternative Experiences

So much do we crave valuable experience, that millions of people have been spending their money on virtual fantasy lifestyles. Within huge online platforms such as Second Life, users can create, live out, and fundamentally be things that are potentially unattainable in the real world. From becoming an otherworldly creature, to designing objects and spaces that IRL constraints would never allow, virtual worlds facilitate the experiences people dream of, and the space for their creativity to flourish. From the virtual arts, to virtual time travel; from virtual education to virtual romance: in Second Life, anything is possible!

Following the success of Second Life, many more virtual realms began to attract millions of users, such as Smeet, Kaneva and Mabinogi. Fascinatingly, not only are users happy to spend their hard earned money on living out an alternative fantasy lifestyle, but entirely enclosed economies, with their own virtual currencies, are now a reality. You can earn virtual currency as an entrepreneur in Second Life, and cash out fiat currency in the real world. For a mind boggling stat, the market value of Second Life for 2015 was a staggering 500 million US dollars, placing the GDP of this virtual realm above some small countries.

What Does This All Mean For Businesses?

Knowing that consumers hold experience as the highest measure of desirability, businesses need to pay attention to their customer experience, or risk sliding into irrelevance. Among all of the online noise, businesses that want to stand out need to hone their offering — either providing a seamless user experience, or creating true novelty — and the only way to do this is by opening innovative paths for dialogue with their audience.

Thanks to the FOMO effect (fear of missing out), businesses that don’t focus on the user experience leave their audience as easy pickings for direct competition. What’s more, as consumers sculpt their own narratives, they also become far more selective in terms of the standard of authenticity. They seek out brands that match their sense of individuality, their aspirations and ultimately their moral standards. Experience is a very personal thing, and a positively charged experience is becoming a benchmark expectation. We each interpret uniquely, and so the complexity of the modern consumer is not to be underestimated!

Evolution That Is Yet To Come

As the current generation wrestle with digital dualism — the juxtaposition of IRL and URL — it is hard to say exactly how this evolution will progress, except in recognising that positive adaptation will probably be fed by the increasing capacity for us to create genuine connection, in both realms. We can hope that our URL lives will begin to serve us in terms of achieving greater prosperity and abundance, rather than simply feeding our vulnerabilities. At a point in which we find ourselves possessing more data than ever before on the behaviours of modern consumers, perhaps it’s time to utilise our resourcefulness not to reduce people to mere statistics, but to humanise them in greater technicolour than ever before.

Using The Latest Technology To Cultivate Health, Wealth, And Happiness

Modern lifestyles often serve to highlight the value, and sparsity, of our precious time. This makes the quality of our experiences all the more vital! With these values in mind, the developers behind GRAYLL envisioned creating an App that would allow their users to reduce the sacrifices of time and experience made for generating income. Discover a new world of digital finance, in which you can harness cutting-edge Artificial Intelligence to grow large or small investments, and create wealth that will allow you to enjoy unique experiences in the time that you have.

Discover the GRAYLL App, and become part of it’s community today.

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