The Evolution of Consumer Behavior: From Material Consumption to Experiential Consumption


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Jul 13, 2023

3 min read


The Evolution of Consumer Behavior: From Material Consumption to Experiential Consumption


Consumer behavior has undergone a significant transformation in recent years, shifting from a focus on material consumption to the pursuit of experiences. This shift has been driven by various factors, including changing societal values, technological advancements, and the desire for meaningful connections. In this article, we will explore the concept of "experiential consumption" and its three key characteristics: non-reproducibility, participation, and contribution. Additionally, we will examine how companies like NTTコムウェア and Netflix have adapted their strategies to cater to this new consumer trend.

1. The Rise of Experiential Consumption:

In the past, consumers derived satisfaction from acquiring material possessions. However, as society becomes more focused on personal growth and self-expression, individuals are increasingly seeking experiences that provide a sense of fulfillment. This shift can be attributed to the realization that material possessions alone cannot bring long-term happiness. The concept of "experiential consumption" captures this shift, emphasizing the value of experiences over material goods.

2. NTTコムウェア's Approach to Experiential Consumption:

NTTコムウェア, a prominent company, recognizes the changing consumer landscape and has tailored its approach to meet the demands of experiential consumption. In their analysis, they identify three distinct characteristics of "experiential consumption": non-reproducibility, participation, and contribution. Non-reproducibility refers to the unique nature of experiences that cannot be replicated. Participation highlights the active involvement of consumers in events and gatherings. Lastly, contribution emphasizes the sense of fulfillment derived from actively contributing to the success of an event or gathering.

3. Netflix's Journey towards Personalization:

Netflix, the popular streaming platform, offers a compelling example of how a company has adapted its strategy to align with the trends of experiential consumption. Initially, Netflix focused on collecting data about members' movie preferences and used algorithms to provide personalized movie recommendations. The proxy metric used to measure success was the percentage of new members who rated at least 50 movies within their first six weeks. This metric served as an indicator of how much users valued personalized movie choices.

4. The Power of Personalization:

Over time, Netflix realized that personalization played a crucial role in improving user retention. Although it took more than a decade to prove the correlation between personalization and retention, Netflix observed a steady improvement in the proxy metrics, which provided a strong signal of eventual success. To achieve this, product leaders at Netflix worked closely with dedicated teams of engineers, designers, and data analysts. Each leader focused on defining their high-level engagement metric, along with the key strategies, proxy metrics, and projects within their respective areas.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Experiential Consumption: As a business, consider how you can shift your focus from material products to creating unique and meaningful experiences for your customers. This could involve organizing events, workshops, or other interactive activities that allow customers to actively participate and contribute.
  • 2. Harness the Power of Personalization: In an increasingly digital world, personalized experiences are highly valued by consumers. Invest in data collection and analysis to understand your customers' preferences and tailor your offerings accordingly. Use proxy metrics to measure the effectiveness of your personalization efforts and make data-driven decisions.
  • 3. Foster a Collaborative Culture: Encourage collaboration between different teams within your organization, such as engineers, designers, and data analysts. By working together towards a common goal, you can develop innovative strategies and projects that cater to the demands of experiential consumption.


The shift from material consumption to experiential consumption reflects the changing values and preferences of today's consumers. Companies like NTTコムウェア and Netflix have recognized this trend and adapted their strategies accordingly. By understanding the three key characteristics of experiential consumption - non-reproducibility, participation, and contribution - businesses can create unique and engaging experiences that resonate with their target audience. Embracing personalization and fostering a collaborative culture are essential for success in this evolving consumer landscape.

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