Is there a place for SMEs in the experience economy?

Fintech influencers discuss the experience economy at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park

Every July, over 400,000 music lovers descend on one of London’s most famous green spaces for a summer of food, fun and live music from some of the world’s greatest artists at Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park.

With our summer of live entertainment in full swing, we met with fintech influencers Devie Mohan and Susanne Chishti, at the site to get their thoughts on customer experience, pop-up culture and emerging opportunities for SMEs. 

Devie Mohan is an influential writer, speaker and global expert in all things fintech. She is also the co-founder and CEO of research and data provider Burnmark.

Susanne Chishti is the CEO of FINTECH Circle Institute, an industry commentator for CNBC, and co-editor of bestseller The FINTECH book. 

Is the experience economy changing the festival experience?

Creating a great customer experience is a key factor in attracting new customers and driving customer loyalty – whatever the sector. From contactless terminals to cutting-edge interactive experiences, technology is playing a key role in areas like the evolution of the festival experience.

But even while the experience economy goes from strength to strength, music remains the headline act.

Devie says: “At a festival, your experience is all about emotions. It’s all about connections, the people around you, how the music makes you feel.”

Susanne adds: “People are coming for the experience - they don’t want to think about paying. The payment expertise is almost a secondary experience, which comes after the primary need. Fintech is all about understanding what the secondary need is and making sure financial institutions can provide what is required to meet it early on.”

Customer experience might not be at the front of people’s minds at a festival, but it affects overall experience - whether they’re aware of it or not. New and emerging technologies are empowering vendors to create a smooth customer journey - from contactless payments to seamless omnichannel journey.

We asked Susanne and Devie how small businesses can compete in a changing world. 

The age of the SME

 Devie points out that the last few years have been tough on large businesses:

“I’ve seen so many high-street closures happening. Everyone is struggling. As you can see with the pop-up shops, people are shopping in different ways now.”

Susanne agrees: “I love to go to a pop-up shop. It’s fun, it’s a new way of shopping.”

When asked what their advice is for small businesses, Devie says: “Some of the big players are struggling and this is the opportunity of the century for small businesses. Not just banking, but clothes, jewellery food, retail and everything. There is an opportunity to grab and run with it.” 

Susanne adds: “Social media plays a big role. On Facebook or Instagram, you can reach millions of people. Bruno Mars has millions of followers, but today anybody can start building their community around them.”  We love pop-ups

Over the past decade, our new-found love of pop-up culture has been redefining how we spend our time and money. This summer, rooftop champagne bars, underground supper clubs and exclusive experiences have popped up across London. At Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park you can find pop-up street food, free dance workshops and an outdoor cinema – all within Hyde Park. Pop-up perfection.

Why are we head-over-heels for pop-ups? Again, it comes down to the focus on not just the buying, but the experience – the doing. Many are more ethical, conscious consumers today and like buying from smaller businesses. There’s also an appeal in the idea that you’re experiencing something exclusive, with a small group of people, and in a small window of time.

Pop-ups are great news for big and small brands alike. Big brands can use them to show off their human side, providing fans, customers and those that are a bit curious with a fun, light-hearted, intimate experience.

For small businesses the implications can be even more exciting. Pop-ups give SMEs the chance to compete with other more established brands. Small event organisers, independent food vendors and boutique clothing traders get to mix with a crowd that they know will be into what they have to offer, reaping the benefits of a great location and high footfall they cannot access on a day to day basis.  

Susanne says: “A friend of mine has a pop-up shop, selling jewellery, I actually got this ring from her! I love to go to her pop-up shop. She does it just for ten weeks before Christmas. She has no fixed costs, but she just focuses on the best time of the year to sell her jewellery.” 

Experience economy

The experience economy is a subject we’ve been particularly interested recently, with new innovations coming thick and fast in an effort to keep up with changing consumer habits.

It’s the future of transactions. Playing in the experience market gives big brands the chance to go even bigger. With no real limits on what can be achieved, brands are committing to pushing boundaries in the entertainment sphere, delivering ever more slick and sophisticated immersive experiences.

Devie points out that the way modern consumers spend money reflects a world where our priorities are shifting: “Everybody is changing. People don’t care as much about houses, cars, objects or furniture. They care about how their feelings evolve with experiences. They’re travelling more, listening to music, watching sport and so on. As time goes on, we’ll find that people are investing more in experiences, not objects.”

Susanne adds: ‘’The experience economy, that thing where people are looking for exciting moments in their lives, is driving both early and later adopters. It attracts people and gives them a feeling of belonging and more loyalty to a brand. It’s very unique.” 

Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park

Running from 6-15 July, this year’s Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park was the our biggest and best yet, featuring an eclectic mix of headliners including The Cure, Michael Bublé, Bruno Mars, Eric Clapton, Roger Waters and Paul Simon.

Over 400,000 festival goers visited Barclaycard presents British Summer Time Hyde Park to enjoy the ten sun-soaked days of great live music across three stages, an array of delicious artisan food and drink, and unique experiences and entertainment throughout. Over 21,000 Barclays and Barclaycard customers used their card, app or bPay device to give them and their guests access to the Barclaycard Perk Park, with access to panoramic views on the 11 metre terrace. A further 4,000 customers became rockstars and completed their very own stage dive.