The The Effects of Experience Engagement in Shaping a Less Materialistic Society


  • Rebecca Croft Nottingham Trent University


Identity, Possessions, Materialistic values, Experiences, Material culture, Experience cutlture


The progression of the digital connectivity trend has been disruptive in manipulating the emerging needs of consumers. Through equipping consumers with greater societal control and empowering them to strive for self-development, the classification of consumers as ‘individuals’ showcases the complexity of their purchasing preferences within contemporary society. These needs expose a shift away from materialism, as consumers are spending more time and money on experiences than on material possessions in order to express their individuality. This article explores the current value that possessions and experiences have in the life of individuals, and identifies the role that experience engagement has in influencing the societal shift away from materialism. Investigation into individuals’ materialistic values provides key approaches for businesses to capitalise on such complexities, in order to successfully operate within the competitive Experience Economy. The article contributes to the existing body of research on material culture and experience engagement by focusing on the values and motivations of millennials. Research is based upon a mixed method approach, utilising a vast range of both quantitative and qualitative methods including; surveys, interviews, online and offline observations and an extensive case study analysis. Findings conclude that although the desire for experiences over possessions is apparent, millennials affiliation with material culture is still evident due to the role possessions play in allowing experiences to shape identity. Consequently, it is anticipated that alongside material culture exists an experience culture, now identifying individuals by their experiences, rather than by their possessions. In studying the intrinsic role experiences play in fuelling individualism, it details the key attributes of the experiences millennials value the most when contributing to their identity. The article also considers how these characteristics are being challenged by society today, and the issues the delivery of experiences may face in the future.