52% of UK shoppers seek experiences over retail goods

According to a new survey by Barclaycard, more than half of UK consumers would rather pay for an “enjoyable experience” than a material item.

It also emerged that the same proportion of consumers would be more likely to recommend a good brand experience to their friends, over a purchase they had made.

The survey, which aimed to understand whether the experiences brands offer meet customers expectations, involved 2,000 UK customers and 250 companies.

52% of shoppers who took part in the poll said they enjoy finding shops in non-traditional locations, with 23% having visited a pop-up store in the last year. Two thirds of customers stated they react positively to retailers that surprise them with unexpected experiences.

There has been a noticeable shift towards experience-led retailing, as customers continue to place a larger emphasis on brand service and interactive or unusual encounters, in-store and online. The survey suggests there is currently a good opportunity for retailers willing to prioritise the experience they offer.

Daniel Mathieson, Head of Sponsorship at Barclaycard, said: “To create long-lasting relationships brands need to offer more than the best product or service – they need to tap into consumers’ hearts and minds too. Our data shows that consumers now seek out entertainment above all else when deciding how to spend their money so focusing on seizing this opportunity should be a key priority.”

The survey revealed that 31% of retailers do not prioritise experiences due to a shortage of expertise, meanwhile 26% blame a lack of financial resources. Despite the value that investing in the experience economy seems to present to brands, just 28% of businesses involved in the survey said it’s an area of focus.

Mathieson said: “By providing something extra, whether that’s engaging with music fans by being present at their favourite festival or creating pop-up stores in new locations, brands that are part of shaping meaningful and shareable memories will be the ones that thrive in an experience-led economy.”

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Hayley Everett

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