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Brief Published: 22 Jun 2016

US Consumers Prefer Experiences to Things

US spending on vacations and tourism grew 10% in the three years to 2016

US consumers prefer to spend their money on experiences rather than material goods, according to new research from global market research firm Mintel. 

The American Lifestyles: Balance or Bust US 2016 report found that spending in the vacations/tourism and leisure/entertainment sectors grew by 10% and 12% respectively from 2013-16. Meanwhile, spending in the clothing, footwear and accessories market slowed.

“The common theme is people now have such busy lives and they want to do something more worthwhile with their time off,” Julia Fintz, founder of luxury travel experience company Lekker Adventures, told Stylus.

Brands seeking to tap into experience-seekers’ wallets should capitalise on the notions of spending time with loved ones, as well as adventure, escape and fun. “Material products are just possessions that eventually get older, break or are replaced by newer and usually better things,” said Ruzwana Bashir, co-founder and chief executive of booking and reservation site Peek.com. “Experiences make us happier than products because they are shared with others.”

To explore ways adventure-seeking millennials are curating off-grid experiences over possessions, see Millennial 20/20. Read New-Era Luxury for more on how shifting consumer attitudes are creating a new paradigm for luxury based on experience.