Consumers increasingly desire experiences over things, but companies that sell physical products aren’t out of luck. In fact, many are capitalizing on consumers’ taste for experiences to make their products more appealing and bolster their brands.
Take, for example, Leica, the German manufacturer of high-end cameras. It’s getting into the travel business to engage photography enthusiasts.
In partnership with Momenta, a photojournalism non-profit that offers workshops around the world, Leica is inviting individuals who love photography the rare opportunity to travel to India or Myanmar later this year with professional photographers as part of its new Destinations program.
The two trips, which take place in October and November, consist of “off-the-beaten-path” journeys “without tour buses or large groups.”
The professional photographers will serve as tour leaders and be available for “one-on-one private editing sessions” with participants. Participants do not need to own Leica equipment, but not surprisingly, “Leica gear…will be made available for those who would like to experience the joy of a rangefinder or elegant point-and-shoot cameras.” This includes new Leica equipment, such as the company’s $8,000-plus model SL camera.
Each trip costs $6,995, excluding international airfare, and is limited to 15 participants.
Attendees are promised the experience of a lifetime. As Jamie Rose, the COO of Momenta told Bloomberg about a recent workshop the organization held in Myanmar, “We found out about a novice monk induction ceremony the day before it happened, and we were able to get into it. That’s something nobody else would have had.”
Leica’s Destinations program is an extension of Leica Akademie, which hosts a number of events and has offered a Landscape program that offers photography trips to National Parks.
A way for high-end brands to connect with customers and aspirational consumers
Even though only 15 individuals will be able to participate in each of Leica’s Destinations trips, that isn’t the point. The mere fact that Leica is offering a program like this helps reinforce its brand and position in the marketplace.
Increasingly, that’s critically important for companies that compete in the high-end of their markets and often appeal to aspirational consumers. For Leica, a company that sells cameras routinely costing thousands of dollars, and some costing tens of thousands of dollars, experience is indeed one of the most potent ways to reinforce its brand.
Leica isn’t the only high-end brand taking advantage of experience.
Lamborghini, for example, offers the Lamborghini Esperienza, a “tailor-made program [that] allows participants to experience the brand’s values.” It includes a visit to the Lamborghini factory in Italy and gives participants the ability to get behind the wheel of some of the company’s vehicles on the Autodromo di Imola race track.
The luxury car brand also runs Lamborghini Accademia, which offers training programs for those who want to learn how to drive Lamborghinis in a variety of settings.
The company’s Winter Accademia, which takes place later this month, gives participants the opportunity to learn how to drive Aventador and Huracán vehicles costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in “extreme winter-driving conditions.” The program is open to anybody; no ownership of a Lamborghini is required.
The convergence of product and experience
Leica and Lamborghini are two examples of high-profile brands that manufacture and sell physical products and that are building experiences around those products. But what about companies that are focused on experience?
Interestingly, some of those are getting into the business of creating products to go along with their experiences. Case in point: Snapchat Spectacles.
Spectacles hints at a future in which brands, no matter what they sell, ultimately seek to cement their position in the markets they serve by combining product and experience.
While not every brand has the ability to do this in the same fashion as brands like Leica, Lamborghini and Snapchat, expect to see more and more brands moving in this direction in years to come.