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Selling Experience: Giving Them Something to Talk About

The startups succeeding in selling Millennials the pre-planned, sharable experiences they want to add interest to their social feeds and help break banality.



In our most recent Ypulse Quarterly report, our coverage of the trend Something To Talk About gave a new look at Millennials’ craving for experience. We all know that experiences drive the generation, but we’ve see a shift in how they want those experiences delivered to them, and what they’re looking to get out of them. Large-scale events like concerts and festivals are all well and good—and still craved—but now they’re looking for that same excitement and social currency to be added into their everyday. We see Millennials (especially those in urban areas) participating in everyday events that take the planning off their plates, make them active participants in something unique, make socializing turnkey, make them feel cultured and interesting, and perhaps just as importantly, add something new and envy-inducing to their social feeds.

These cultural quick-fixes need to be pre-planned and ideally give them something great to share on social media. Their need to fill their online personas with interesting, envy-inducing snapshots and updates is part of the drive for these quick and easy pre-packaged plans. But they’re also looking to keep things interesting for themselves. Part of trend is a desire to break from daily monotony and fight banality with the unexpected. 66% agree they often wish they and their friends had more exciting things to do and 46% say that “when we hang out, my friends and I are usually bored,” or “my friends and I have a hard time finding something fun or interesting to do together.” They want to be given something to do now, and something to talk about.

These days, a break from boredom can be bought with little effort. They’re welcoming grab-and-go experiences, and the brands that can provide them. We’ve written about the Museum Hacks and Instagram Walks that have already been drawing in young consumers who are on the hunt for the unexpected and photographable. Now we’re seeing startups designed to sell experience succeed by providing an easy break from the everyday, or offering up the ultimate envy-inducers. Here are two to watch: 

YPlan: Tonight’s Going Out App

It’s 6pm, and you have nothing to do tonight. Not to worry, Yplan has already done the planning for you, and is here to help make you feel spontaneous, in-the-know, and interesting. The Android and iPhone app allows users to “browse through a curated shortlist of the best events in town every night and book in just two taps” and uses their devices’ location to serve up an appropriate list of activity suggestions. Users enter their payment info when setting up a profile so that everything is kept turnkey and 100% mobile, which also means Yplan isn’t competing with big browser-based ticket sites. Their consumer niche is the smartphone owner on the hunt for a last-minute exciting experience (aka the urban Millennial). Events are posted 48 hours in advance and range from concerts to pop-ups—currently, a stand up show by an SNL castmember, a “secret” five-course dinner, and an outdoor movie screening are all listed in NYC—so users can be sure to find an unexpected experience available to them at a screen-touch. Yplan users also get access to perks in the form of discounts, gifts and other tempting exclusive goodies. The future of the app could make plans even more customized: co-founder Viktoras Jucikas told The Wall Street Journal that ”in future [activity choices] might be selected algorithmically based on your previous choices, Facebook likes, your location etc.” Though Yplan started in London, in just a year (and with $12 million in funding) they have also become active in New York, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and just this month announced they would be launching in Edinburgh. They have plans to spread to more U.S. cities in the future, and to get more personalized, so this startup has the potential to reach even more experience-hungry Millennials soon.

IfOnly: Extraordinary Experiences For Good

Wish you could have lunch with your favorite celebrity? Have a once-in-a-lifetime meal customized to your tastes? Experience a backstage meet-up with an amazing musician? IfOnly is the site that makes all of these things a reality, providing members with wildly-unique experiences that connect buyers with the “top luminaries” in the world of food, literature, music, sports, and more. The site is based on the idea that Millennials would rather spend money on experiences than products. We explored this concept in our Blurred (Luxury) Lines trend, where we told readers that 65% would rather spend $500 on front row tickets to an event than on a high end designer product and 80% would rather spend $5000 on a vacation with their family or friends than on a state-of-the-art home entertainment system. Millennials are redefining the luxury market to fit their needs—luxury can mean rarity, convenience, ease of access, or an uncommon event, all separate from that age-old notion of pretense—and in general, material luxury goods are being passed over in favor of social experiences. Of course, with the parallel Something to Talk About trend as an influence, the more unique and out-of-the-box those experiences are, the better…and the more they are willing to spend on them. IfOnly tells its members that they know “true luxury is not another bauble or thing, but rather the extraordinary experiences we remember and share.” Because IfOnly’s offered experiences are high-end, exclusive, and often once-in-a-lifetime, their user-base is even more niche: the young consumer with money. (Yes, they do exist.) In their first year, the site has sold over 2000 experiences. IfOnly doesn’t just work off the notion that luxury is experience, but in true Millennial form, they also say that “luxury is helping others,” and roughly 70% of each purchase goes to a charity handpicked by the celebrity or company involved.  According to Adweek, “IfOnly has worked with over 150 charities to date and raised more than $1 million.” The site is growing proof that the “experience-economy” is full of opportunity to both provide what consumers are craving, and to do a little good as well.