Coke Tries Experience Economy

Venerable Coca-Cola seems to be jumping on the experience-economy bandwagon. It has launched Coca-Cola Red Lounges in malls in Chicago and Los Angeles. Aimed at teens, the approximately 4,000 square feet venues offer exclusive music, movies, and games. Producers of the entertainment include the music video channel FUSE, G4 Media, Sony, ESPN Video Games, and Twentieth Century Fox.

Complete with custom-built furniture, a plasma-screen media wall, and sound domes, the lounges are a place for teens to hang out with friends and enjoy interactive entertainment. They host teen-targeted events and promotions and award prizes to visitors during key shopping periods.

Of course there’s more to the Red Lounges than their cool clubhouse atmosphere. Vending machines sell Coke, Sprite, Dasani water, and Minute Maid juices-all Coke products.

Red Lounges are a commercial version of the Coca-Cola Red Room that was part of the set for American Idol. The first Red Lounges opened up a year and a half after Coke COO Steve Heyer proclaimed that the world was moving into an experience economy.

In an experience economy, companies differentiate themselves by offering an experience along with goods and services that are becoming increasingly commoditized.

Coke isn’t the only company to try providing experiences as a core appeal agent for selling its products. Disney just may be the granddaddy of experience-economy companies.

How strong a trend this is and the variety of markets it will penetrate remain to be seen. But when a giant like Coke gives it a try, you have to think about ways your company could use it. So, if you’re selling to small and midsize businesses, how can you adopt experience-economy concepts? If you’re using experience-economy approaches tell us about them.

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