Why Do People Still Wait in Lines?
David Batstone on Business
The new de Young Museum in San Francisco opened up this month and throngs of people waited in line to be one of the first to see its classy design and fresh exhibitions. Amazed at the public response, local columnist Joan Ryan, wrote a column in the San Francisco Chronicle under the title, 'Americans Still Seek the Authentic.' Ryan penned a profound observation: 'Americans are hungrier than ever for the beautiful and the authentic, for experiences that challenge what we know, for ideas that show us the world from a new angle.'
I would go one step further: Even though we enjoy nearly unlimited access to information and communication, we desire real experience. We want to the THERE when creativity happens. Marketers would do well to pay attention to this phenomenon. Goods and services so easily pass into commodities; experiences, on the other hand, leave memories.
Why else would hundreds of thousands of people wait in the cold of the night to buy the latest Harry Potter book? After all, Amazon promised that it would not run out of Half-Blood Prince and get it to our doorstep at first release. But the one thing that Amazon could not deliver is the memory of being THERE and telling your friends for years to come about that moment. Anyone can be a consumer. To take part, now that begets a unique individual.
Not every product, or event, yields an experience, however. Consider the fact that ticket sales for the majority of rock shows are down. The U2 tour, on the other hand, sells out nightly and turns into one of the hottest tickets at every stop. Ask anyone who has attended a U2 concert what happened. Trust me, they will gush on how it made them feel - inspired, elated, connected, and the like. That is not just happenstance. Months before they go out on tour, the band and their show designers consciously set out to create a community of participation. \n\nJumping venues, the online world, in my humble, has tapped out its usefulness as a static kiosk. Yes, it's a terrific reference librarian, retail outlet, and one-stop data shop. But the next quantum growth for the Internet will arrive with participation technologies that give us the tools to transform our lives. In truth, the Net as a communications platform has been my sense of its real potentiality all along. It is the first glimpse of an emerging economy. You give me the tools to make my own personal history, to change my life, to feel in a new way, to participate in something authentic, you will own a piece of economic value.\n\nObserving my own kids, I am convinced that this dynamic is in no small part driving the IPod craze. They spend hours with their friends debating which songs to download if not swapping their favorites. Crafting a unique mix offers all the ingredients of expressing their personal identities. The IPod transforms them into the music producer as well as the consumer.\n\nTools of participation - that is the new economy. You cannot package an authentic experience. You set the stage and let people script their own dramas. \n