Evolution of Family Lifestyle Center

By now, just about everyone has heard about the concept of the experience economy, first identified by Joe Pine and James Gilmore and described in their book The Experience Economy. Experiences are no longer the sole domain of entertainment facilities, but are now becoming commonplace in the retail and service sectors with examples such as REI, Starbucks, Cabella's, and FAO Swartz. More and more, these venues are capturing an increasing share of the consumer's disposable leisure time and dollars. As consumer destinations become experiencized and experiences become commoditized, traditional entertainment venues need to find new ways to hold onto and capture market share.

One answer is the final 5th step of what is know as the progression of economic value - transformational experiences. Transformational experiences offer more than a memory of an experience, they transform people, they change and improve people. A well-known transformational offering is health and fitness clubs. People join to improve themselves physically, and more and more, they are also seeking psychological benefits as well from more holistic wellness offerings such as yoga and spinning. Membership in fitness and health clubs has grown from 21 million in 1992 to 34 million in 2001.

Education is a transformational experience. 23% of adults are taking college courses for strictly non-work related, personal enrichment. Edutainment, which combines the fun of entertainment with learning, is also a type of a transformational experience.

As our society continues to grow in prosperity, transformational experiences will gain increasing importance in consumers' leisure choices. Abraham Maslov first identified this phenomenon in his hierarchy of needs. He explained that we are motivated by growth through the satisfaction of our needs. Once one level of needs is satisfied we move to "higher" levels.

  1. Physiological needs: food, sex, rest, physical comfort
  2. Safety needs: for freedom from physical harm
  3. Social needs: affection, companionship, inclusion
  4. Ego needs: respect and social status
  5. Self-actualization needs: opportunities to develop one's talents and potentials.

Transformation experiences are basically about self-actualization.

Family Lifestyle Centers (FLC) target the entire family with a broad offering of both entertainment and transformational experiences, meeting the lifestyle needs for modern families with children. Included are age appropriate areas for both children and adults with traditional health and fitness activities, as well as broader holistic activities; aquatic recreation, children's edutainment, family entertainment designed for family interaction, and lessons and enrichment workshops for all ages.

FLCs also tap into another movement of our times called the tribal trend. People are seeking tribes, the ability to define themselves at a local level with groups of like-minded people. The tribe trend is a response to our fast paced, fragmented modern lifestyles where we increasingly live separated from one another. Socialization, shared family experiences and creating a concept of community are important elements of the FLC model. FLCs include socialization areas, pleasant café areas, targeted workshops and facilities designed for all types of family and group interactions and celebrations, including birthday parties and family and group outings.

The family lifestyle center we are designing in northern Kentucky will include play areas for infants through early grade school, a separate youth center for children 8 to 14, both indoor and outdoor leisure aquatic areas, dedicated family changing/restroom and locker areas and three different café areas offering a menu of what is referred to as fast casual in the restaurant industry. The recreational offerings for all ages will be geared for self-improvement and will be non-competitive. Enrichment studios will offer cooking lessons, woodworking and jewelry making, children's non-competitive gymnastics and movement classes, art, papermaking and parental education. Special attention is being given throughout the center and programming to the needs of moms and homemakers.