Every executive around is bombarded with research, requests, and industry pieces are all saying customers want "experience". Articles like this one talk about "keys" or "expectations". They are not wrong, but they miss the point.
People, and yes consumers are people, want to live more enriched lives. Who wants to consume cheap? Maybe you have to, but do you want to? I don't. Why are luxury brands killing it (Hermes growing 22%!) even while aggregate discretionary spending drops? Because luxury brands (and I include Apple) are driven by passion and by consuming luxury consumers are having their passions reflected back to them.
Okay that's great if you sell luxury items, but what about the rest of us?
One part of the answer...deliver passion! Passion elevates products and services from commodities to personalized scarcity and, most critically, transcends banal consumption to authentic participation.
The best part? Everyone involved benefits - consumers are validated, employees are valued and merchants grow.