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The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage
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The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  2,135 ratings  ·  100 reviews
You are what you charge for. And if you're competing solely on the basis of price, then you've been commoditized, offering little or no true differentiation. What would your customers really value? Better yet, for what would they pay a premium? Experiences. The curtain is about to rise, say Pine & Gilmore, on the Experience Economy, a new economic era in which every busine ...more
Hardcover, 254 pages
Published April 1st 1999 by Harvard Business Review Press
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Average rating 3.82  · 
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 ·  2,135 ratings  ·  100 reviews

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Aug 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book helped stretch my thinking on how businesses can differentiate themselves. Some notes:

Mass customizing - efficiently serving customers uniquely - means producing only and exactly what individual customers want.

Mass customizing any good automatically turns it into a service. Mass customizing any service automatically turns it into an experience.

Embrace theatre as a model for performance.

What would you do differently if you charged for admission?

When a customer buys an experience, he
Gretchen Rubin
This is an absolutely fascinating look at the business of experience. I've become very interested in this, because of my interest in the senses. ...more
Dec 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this. It made me think about, not only what I was doing for other people, but what I actually experience when I go to a restaurant or store. The Experience Economy will stick with me for a long time.
Marian Deegan
Aug 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
These smart HBR guys crafted a hard-to-find, dense, and not-so-easy-to-wade-through but definitive analysis of the sea-change that occurred in the business world fifteen years ago.

Reading this book then revolutionized the way I thought about marketing and selling. At the forefront of the new horde of business Paul Reveres trumpeting the transformation from "commodity" to "service" to "experience", Pine and Gilmore present a carefully researched and supported analysis.

As you chart a business co
Lamec Mariita
Jan 06, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book will stretch your head in new dimensions. It takes a very logical and reasoned approach towards the theoretical next steps of economic expansion. The concept of the book is simple and the logic is understandable. If you're looking for a lesson on the difference between commodities, goods, services and experiences, then this book will provide it. It's a nice book to read. ...more
Eka Guledani
The main idea is very clear at the beginning and can be expressed in two phrases, the rest of the book is just blah-blah and annoying examples. Three stars because, still, the main thought of this book is strong and useful.
Jan 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Slow starting, but profound insights into business strategy and market prospects with tools for engagement that extend well beyond the realm of business. Highly recommend.
Aug 22, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book is an odd grab bag of ideas: many that are interesting and some that are downright bizarre. The heart of the book is “Chapter 8 Now Act Your Part,” which tells how to run your enterprise like improvised street theater or the Commedia dell’arte. I found the why you should do it a little harder to swallow. It seemed to be how to be a success in business by being so entertaining that people should want to pay you an admission price just to browse in your store. Eventually you’ll build you ...more
Sarah Stewart
Jun 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business-books
As a theater person (at least in the past and randomly in the present at times) and an event designer/planner, this was the perfect metaphor for me. Making business "theater" by carefully crafting an experience for people resonated deeply with me. I was especially impressed with the sheer volume of good examples.

I use to joke that I was going to buy the website to try to help people break out of the monotony of the speaker/food/mingle cycle, but if any planner (or business fo
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An interesting view on a business. Working for a hotel, I can acknowledge that facilities don't mean as much as a total guest experience, and one of the more significant parts is friendly human interaction. That couples with a strong Customer Relationship Database is an unbeatable formula for a successful property.

My key points:
-"Customer sacrifice is the gap between what individual customers settle for (in buying mass produced goods and services) and what each wants exactly."
-Think of a busine
Andy M
This book offers a convincing argument extended too far. I read the whole book, and it's clear that the original business journal article written by the authors was padded to become book length. Publishers are often reluctant to publish pamphlets for fear of putting out a competing product that puts a downward pressure on the prices of actual books, and books like this are the result. ...more
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I absolutely adored the epilogue. Wouldn't have given it 4 stars without out. That's the issue with this book though. It has some brilliant, thought provoking moments. But then it overextends it's examples, causing it to drag. I found some of the theories to be a little too extreme, but overall I feel like the ideas in this book can be used for both life and business conservatively. ...more
Devin Partlow
This book goes a little further than expected. Just when you think the experience economy is the goal, wait there's more! Kinda weird that most of the book was dedicated on how to make great experiences when there's an economy even better (allegedly). ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
There's a lot of interesting content and it's organized well, but it reads very much like a textbook. The authors were clever by adding "intermission" and "encore" sections, but the book itself feels more like a good or a service than an experience. ...more
Wade M
Jan 26, 2009 rated it liked it
Good book, but highly repetitive
Feb 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: business
A great book for entrepreneurial minds, who realise that 21st century business is more than simply goods and services. Over the course of reading the book I've come to realise that I have instinctively come to similar conclusions myself, over the course of studying business management. It was nevertheless nice to see so much information about experiential business and marketing codified in the form of various models and theories, succinctly presented and backed up with ample real life examples.

Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The book is not only informative but transformative. I gives you new perspectives on what any business should have as an end goal.

"You really are what you charge for.
If you charge for
- stuff, then you are in the commodity business
- tangible things, then you are in the goods business
- the activities you execute, then you are in the service business.
- the time customers spend with you, then you are in the experience business.
- the demonstrated outcome the customer achieves, then and only then are
Bridger Cummings
Dec 11, 2020 rated it did not like it
I don't know why, but I expected this to be different. I didn't realize that it was more a business-help book. Since I am not a business owner, I really am not the target audience.
What they say makes sense, but I feel their point was well made after just the introduction. After that, it was just example after (sometimes stretched) example. Then it started saying people should charge for admission to stores. I understand the point, and maybe that would work for some, but I just had to laugh. Like
Taylor Smith
Jan 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Loved the concept of this book. Parts of it toed the line of being too theatre-focused and losing the reader, but I thought that there were 4 or 5 compelling frameworks and ideas that will be game changing in terms of how I approach building my own business (demand chain, "the product is the customer", etc).

As a reader, be prepared to do some critical thinking to tie the concepts in this book to your day to day. If you're willing to put in the work, the book is worth its weight in gold.
Helfren Filex
Aug 08, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: market
The competition from all over the world breaks out to the highest level ever since the World Wide Web broke out. However a new type of economy emerges that help bussinesses to maintain their customer and edges over the market. The experience economy. The book dechiper the details of how to work on this new experience economy and win over the other competitors.
Jan 13, 2018 rated it liked it
Although what the author wants to say is phenomenal, this sadly became the management book which just uses a plethora of examples and use cases just to make one single point. A read through the Author's article on HBR was enough to grasp what the book wanted to say.

Jonathan Hardy
Aug 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I think that this is an effective frame for viewing the evolving economy and has been helpful for me as I have considered industries and opportunities of the future. They took the work as theatre idea further than was helpful for me, but I think the overall mentality is important.
Aug 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Good book overall. Definitely helpful for the work that I do as I feel like I’m constantly thinking about how to create a better college visit experience for students. Anyone who works in a people facing job, which is a lot, I think this book has a lot of helpful tips.
Anima Verma
May 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
A great heater model which can be applied to any business beyond mass customisations to unique experiences. It talks about a new learning curve and goes beyond the experience economy to transformation economy. Brilliant examples of buildABear, Disney, Ritz etc.
Brian Nicholson
Mar 18, 2017 rated it liked it
The Experience Economy makes the point that economic value has progressed over the decades from the extraction of commodities, to the making of goods, to the delivering of services, to the creation of experiences, and ultimately to the promise of transformation. I found that general construct, and its related points, helpful in thinking through how a marketing agency and my marketing clients might be encouraged to move up that value ladder.

The main reason for a 3-star rating is that the unabrid
Michael Tarpinian
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Interesting book about using mass customization and using elements of theater in selling commodity type goods and services.
Fkupfer Kupfer
Jan 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Good reference book, although not as groundbreaking or relevant as when it was first released. It is full of examples from various industries.
Mar 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant! Mind changing!
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic. Businesses can get so much value from following the authors' advice. ...more
Mar 30, 2018 rated it liked it
This book has a great underlying theme...
But the book is itself is truly awful
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Why not focus on some serious family drama? Not yours, of course, but a fictional family whose story you can follow through the generations of...
190 likes · 67 comments
“Twelve years ago we characterized the scene as poor service, no service, or self-service. Unfortunately, little has changed. As a result, customers understandably hesitate to pay any premium. Profitability therefore suffers, wages stagnate, and workers disengage—creating a downward spiral to yet more miserable service.” 1 likes
“Fundamentally, customers do not want choice; they just want exactly what they want.” 0 likes
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