Building Experiences in the New Economy

Reports & Research Category: Outside Research

Cover of the Building Experiences in the New Economy report | A winter scene with the title copy

Building Experiences in the New Economy

Originally published on November 2, 2021
Updated on May 3, 2022 and April 13, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically reshaped how audiences engage with the experience economy across different sectors. Starting in 2020, a province-wide research study was made available to support decision-makers with timely and relevant data.

What started as a pandemic response tool has transformed into an ongoing research collaboration initiative. The goal? To support leaders with facts about the market and their audiences, including motivations, behaviours and messaging opportunities.

Several phases of research have been completed by Stone-Olafson since May 2020 as part of an ongoing study. The most recent findings, from a survey conducted in January 2023, are now available in the Winter 2023 Building Experiences in the New Economy report.

Key Trends from the Winter 2023 Research Outcomes

  • Hesitancy is fueled by more than just COVID. Despite higher comfort levels, hesitation to participate in activities is still present for a variety of reasons – the most notable is affordability.
  • The economics of experience are significant. There is no question that market conditions have suppressed spending in the experience economy, and Albertans are being ‘squeezed.’ This alone presents a challenge for organizations to deliver a strong value proportion, and yet the overall level of spending is still significant.
  • Wallets are constrained. Albertans are spending a high portion of their income on basic living expenses, which contributes to hesitancy and selectiveness on activity spending. And while Albertans have indicated they are willing to spend, the activity and experience has to be ‘worth it’ for them.
  • Expectations are high and experience matters. Because both dollars and expectations are squeezed, audiences have indicated that their threshold for poor experiences is quite low. In fact, about two people out of 10 indicate they will not return to an experience if it falls flat. In short, there is a little room for error.
  • The importance of collaboration. The value of these types of offers appears to be two-fold: it provides an opportunity to engage audiences with a unique combination of experiences that may not normally be combined, and it can potentially show value via lower cost.

Access the full Winter 2023 Building Experiences in the New Economy report here:

Cover of the Building Experiences in the New Economy report | A winter scene with the title copy

This is a Community Resource

The initiative is being funded by leaders who see an opportunity to support organizations which bring remarkable experiences to life in communities across Alberta. These include Calgary Arts Development, Edmonton Arts Council, Stone-Olafson, the ActiveCITY Collective, Tourism Calgary, and Explore Edmonton.

A prior six waves of research were completed in a longitudinal study starting in May 2020. The research moved into a new phase in the fall of 2021, and includes a prior two rounds of research: November 2021 and May 2022.

New rounds of research are continuing to provide information on this topic. If you have not done so already, sign up at to receive notifications about information sharing workshops and future research endeavours.