The Experience Industry

The Experience Industry

You walk into a busy restaurant, and amidst the bustle, you spy a free seat. Carefully you squeeze between laughing guests and hurried waiters, plonking yourself down with satisfaction—ignoring the look of the well-dressed businessman you just beat to the chair.

A waiter takes your order of a cappuccino and a croissant. You begin to settle down with anticipation, waiting for a piping hot cup of java topped with that mountain of exquisite foam to arrive at your table.

Five slow minutes pass before the waiter returns holding the promised cup. He dumps it unceremoniously in front of you before rushing off. You pick up the cup and find that it’s lukewarm! Not only that; instead of a heap of froth, there is a tiny dot of foam floating in the sea of coffee.

Bad Experience?

The history of coffee goes back to the 13th century when Ethiopians discovered energizing effects of the coffee plant. From there the processing, roasting, and brewing of the bean spread to surrounding countries and started to create an industry.

The Ethiopians did manage to extract the incredible caffeine out of each bean, but weren’t able to turn it into a commodity or see the value of the green coffee bean as a trade luxury.

A company called Starbucks began in the USA and took that little bean from Ethiopia, not only extracting a “buzz” out of the oils, but managed to launch a worldwide revolution of the coffee experience with over 17,000 stores in 50 countries.

At a Starbucks branch, a joyous smiling waiter that’s interested in your name instantly becomes your friend. A variety of new music playing in the background, there is attention to clean colors and store layout, daily specials and freebies, and better yet—it’s the same beautiful experience every time, no matter where you are in the world.

The taste is not much different to our local brands. A slightly bitter bean was transformed into a billion dollar company because Starbucks focused on the experience.

It’s no secret that the true value of something is often overlooked. Packaging the value into an experience is what will turn rocks into an engagement ring and a bean into a brand.

For young entrepreneurs out there who are creating clients and business relationships, ask yourself, “What kind of experience do I bring to a middle-aged man dressed in an uncomfortable suit who cannot wait to retire?” “What kind of atmosphere is in my shop?"

From products and store fronts to your own personality—people want a real experience. The movie industry in Zimbabwe went from movie cinemas, straight to the very well known “Jack Sparrow” (for those outside of Zimbabwe, Jack Sparrow began offering bootlegged versions of current films for the cost of a cheap DVD. They sold in theatre films. It was a local craze in Harare.)—partly because the experience of watching a 12-month old movie just didn’t cut it.

This post is dedicated to young entrepreneurs and young business people with dreams to create, explore and develop ideas that can play a part in assisting with Zimbabwe’s expansion.

“People will forget what you’ve said, forget what you’ve done, but they’ll always remember how you made them feel.”—Anonymous.

The above posting was one of our weekly columns for The Business Herald newspaper in Zimbabwe.

(photo via trey ratcliff)