Escapism, stress relief and wonder: Today's experience economy

Luke D’Arcy, UK President at Momentum Worldwide highlights some of the key pillars of the experience economy, from participation to co-creation, and experience with purpose.

Luke D’Arcy, Momentum Worldwide

UK President


Has there ever been a more certain thing than the reality of the uncertainty we face today? From climate change to coronavirus. Make no mistake, these are serious times. The onslaught is continuous and the need to find an escape from the pressure is more real than ever before.

It’s been four years since we carried out a study into the role of Brand Experience in people’s lives. Back then the onus was on utilitarian thinking. A desire to make the world a better place. Empowering, yes. Idealistic, perhaps.

Fast forward to 2019 and into 2020 and our follow up has unearthed a shift in mentality, dialogue and level of expectation. Due to, or perhaps because of, the barrage of headlines and horror stories we have seen mindsets shift. Our sense of purpose is stronger than ever but now brands are also required to lift moods and become the glue that helps bind our families, tribes and societies in ways that are more real and meaningful than ever before.

Now brands are also required to lift moods and become the glue that helps bind our families, tribes and societies in ways that are more real and meaningful than ever before.

Luke D'Arcy

Consumption is no longer purely the end goal

In We Know Experiences, Momentum Worldwide’s recent global research study, we uncovered a huge expectation and desire for brands to step into the vacuum. Addressing issues like stress, meaningful family time and escapism; some 86% of our respondents want brands to step in and help lift their mood whilst over 84% look to brands to help bring their families together to create memories.

Regardless of whether you are spending your pound or euro, the Experience Economy is growing and innovating faster than ever. The opportunities, and also the risks, are greater than before. The power of experience has become an economy in its own right. A major multibillion-dollar player in the global economic and cultural fabric of society and one that brands ignore at their peril.

Consumption is no longer purely the end goal. Participation, co-creation, and experience with purpose are just some of the key pillars of the experience economy. Even hard-bitten investors like Larry Fink, Chairman & CEO of Blackrock, are pushing companies, with Fink recently stating, “Every company must not only deliver financial performance but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society. Without a sense of purpose, no company, either public or private, can achieve its full potential”.

Experiences that give back to society

That purpose, that need to contribute to, and be seen to contribute to, society is experience led. Brands like McDonald’s and Nike have embraced this in their approach and are creating powerful experience led campaigns that go way beyond product and instead focus on what they give back to society.

McDonald’s is currently leading with its emotive ‘Thankyou’ charity spot extolling the support its consumers have given to building hospital and family housing. Last year we saw ‘Nike Church’ open its doors, turning a disused place of worship into a fully-fledged basketball haven to take kids off the dangerous, crime-filled Chicago streets.

From the omni-experiences of Secret Cinema to the escapist tech driven experiences like Lockheed Martin’s Field Trip to Mars, brands are stepping up and consumers are responding in their billions. Enjoying more, spending more, escaping more.

Whilst the UK agonised over the merits and risks of Huawei and 5G tech infrastructure, Verizon meanwhile gave us a glimpse of the potential of 5G in transforming the way we consume and enjoy sports. Its super dome fan experience build out in Miami at the Super Bowl was on a new scale to any of its previous incarnations and looked to inspire both fans, families, its partners and the sport itself to the possibilities of tech led sport experiences.

Consumption is no longer purely the end goal. Participation, co-creation, and experience with purpose are just some of the key pillars of the experience economy.

Luke D'Arcy

Positivity and happiness over fear and division

The entertainment industry has always led from the front in driving the creative and financial models of the experience economy. One of the greatest purveyors of this is Universal Studios, where every inch of the Harry Potter world journey, every grain of sand of the man-made beach and every character interaction has been curated to maximise the experience of its daily audience.

Under Bob Iger, Disney have revolutionised their experiential business model with clever acquisitions centred around delivering assets that helps drive content, character and park experience. The Disney brand has also been aggressively used by governments across the globe to accelerate experience economies.

This role of countries and governments looking to tap into the experience economy has become a core strategy in markets like Asia and the Middle East. Using music, sport and leisure experiences to drive reappraise of their countries offering has seen a rush in deals like the Rugby World Cup, athletics championships, F1 races, boxing matches and music festivals all making appearances in new markets across the globe.   

Conservative estimates put the annual experience economy at some $75BN+ and growing. Approaches like omni-experience and purpose-led experiences will continue to be the future of not only our industry and the global economy, but also of our society as we seek to find connections and shared memories that help deliver positivity and happiness over fear and division. 

Guest Author

Luke D’Arcy, Momentum Worldwide

UK President,


Luke runs Momentum UK, the most awarded global experiential agency in the world, working for clients such as American Express, Microsoft and SAP. Named one of their Global Agency Innovators of the Year by Internationalist Magazine, Luke is also a Harvard Business School Alumni, sits on the 4A’s new business committee and has worked across numerous global networks and independents including IPG, Havas and Iris. He has also worked client side at Virgin focusing on brand experience and activation as Partnership Director of their Formula 1 team. He is a leading evangelist for experiential marketing in media like CNBC, The Economist, Forbes and most recently mentoring three brands on the power of Experiential marketing for The Telegraph Newspaper as well as featuring in Creativepool’s 2019 Top 100 Influencers list and Eventex’s The 100 Most Influential People in the Event Industry list.