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Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Are we post-stuff?

Over the last ten years the music business has discovered that while it can't get people to pay more than a couple of pounds for a CD, those same people will pay anything up to £50 to go and see that artist perform live. Maybe this isn't so much a consequence of the digital revolution as the harbinger of a more significant change which has been taking place over the same period of time. Put concisely, it means people would rather have experiences than stuff.

Look around. Premium sporting occasions, expensive rock festivals, blockbuster movies, premium-priced meals, lavish family occasions, adventurous holidays, beauty treatments, weekend retreats, the Hockney exhibition: people seem increasingly relaxed about spending money on things which don't last rather than, as they might have done in the past, on items that are supposed to give long term satisfaction or advertise the owner's status.

I've noticed this in my own offspring. There are a few key branded goods that they feel they must have - a Blackberry, a pair of Ugg boots for instance - but beyond that they are far more likely to get excited about a visit, a concert or a gathering of friends.

I'm wondering, are we post-stuff?