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Admin Note: Speaking of the Experience Economy, we like to keep things fun and lively around here and we couldn’t think of a better way to do that than to bring on another writer. We’d like to introduce you to Sandra Buckley! Sandra is a Greenville, Mississippi native with a background in marketing, public relations, and writing. We are excited to see what she will add to Small Batch and hope you enjoy reading her posts.

by Sandra M. Buckley

This past year documented a major shift on how people spend their money. Instead of spending it on tangible things, social and economic patterns clearly indicate people are now choosing to spend their money on experiences.

This new reality of spending choice, which is called the Experience Economy, is especially prevalent in the food and beverage industry. The influential trends in this space are strongly pointing towards a more casual-dining culture alongside the continued rise of mainstream terms like farm-to-table, locally-sourced, craft, healthy, sustainable, and superfoods.

In support of the Experience Economy, there is good news for Mississippi. With our rich base in agriculture, our state is already positioned to latch onto this trend and excel. The potential for real success is certainly within reach, and it’s a phenomenal opportunity. The same goes for all of our agricultural neighbors in the Southeast.

According to Forbes, people are spending more money on dining out than on groceries. Now that claim sure raises an eyebrow, I will admit. However, when you couple that fact with the Experience Economy’s “casualization” factor, it sure makes sense when I look around at my own favorite restaurants. They are, in fact, more laid back now. They are promoting locally grown produce and meats. They sell local craft beverages. They market themselves as artful, yet health-conscious. And maybe best of all, they conveniently deliver (thanks to WaitR!), which adds yet another layer to the experience element when you just want to stay in and enjoy that meal you’re craving from your favorite local go-to.

Another relevant example of the Experience Economy trend in the food and beverage space goes to craft breweries and distilleries. The opportunity to go inside, tour, engage with the brew master, and order beverages onsite is an absolute treat for local connoisseurs. It’s also quite a draw for tourism.

This full-on brewery experience only recently became a reality for Mississippi. Thanks to the recent passing of HB1322 last year (and the Mississippi Brewers Guild), breweries are now allowed to sell their products directly onsite to consumers. This means that not only has this bill opened a new source of revenue for the breweries, it gives us consumers the chance to create new experiences while supporting small, local businesses.

At the end of the day, farmers, restauranteurs, and brewers have a huge impact because they create jobs, boost the local and state economy, and give restaurants local products to sell. They are eager to meet the trendsetting expectations of consumers, like the Experience Economy, and welcome us with open arms, a casual vibe, quality products, affordability, and convenience – and all in an effort to provide a memorable experience that will keep us coming back for more.

So, welcome to the Experience Economy. Let’s savor the moments as we support our local, entrepreneurial makers in the food and beverage industry.

Sandra M. Buckley is a native of Greenville and credits the rich and vibrant culture of the Mississippi Delta for her love of writing. A graduate of Mississippi College, she spent several years in Nashville, TN, honing her craft. After returning to her home state, she resides in Madison with her husband, where she runs her boutique marketing/PR/writing firm through which she loves to promote the inspiring people, places, and potential of Mississippi.

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