I think we all believe that life’s experiences are more important to us than the material possessions that we own. Well Susan Weinschenk recently wrote about the research that Carter and Gilovich did to prove out this idea and they uncovered some valuable ideas.


Their research looked to uncover why we value experiences over possessions. They proved that people use experiences to define their sense of self. People prefer to talk about themselves in terms of experiences rather than what they own. This can be thought of as part of our life story we carry around with us. People it seems prefer to talk about purchasing items through the experiences they have with it, rather than the material ownership of the product.


Knowing people by what they have experienced and how they use a product is more likely to give us a greater insight to the person than what they bought. Our memories associated with an object make that object more valuable and satisfying when the association is positive.


So with this in mind Susan put forward these considerations for products and experiences.



  • If you are marketing a product, put emphasis on what experiences you will have with it rather than what it will look like/feel like/ be like to own it.
  • If you are collecting purchasing info about target clients (as has been in the news lately with questions about privacy) you’d be better off to know what people’s purchases imply about the experiences they are having rather than just inferring from the data what they own.
  • The user experience of a product is more important than we think. It’s not just the idea that the product should be easy to use/ interesting. The EXPERIENCE part of user experience is not just a fancy word to use. People remember and evaluate, and even cherish experiences, even with technology.
  • Customers may resonate more with a brand if they can get a sense of what the organization has DONE, not just what products or services they sell.