While the X=Experience has come to its conclusion for another year, we’re still riding the waves of excitement over this year’s spectacular event. Our two day knowledge-sharing event took place on September 17th and 18th, and brought together some of the biggest and brightest minds in business and academia. It was a jam-packed marathon of brainstorming, ideating, and innovation, so we hardly know where to start!
X=Experience kicked off on Thursday night as our guests gathered at the beautiful Westin hotel for cocktails and dinner. Once the sun set, we embarked on one of the new features for this year’s event– our “A Night in the Life of Einstein” tour of historic downtown Princeton. We began our night time tour by driving past the homes of some of the most iconic minds in academia and business before getting out at Nassau Hall. We walked down the same streets Einstein once walked as we passed his first apartment, home, office, and more. Fun fact: Einstein used to get lost frequently when walking home, and would often end up knocking on the wrong doors, not knowing where his house was — he even has a police record for it!
After a long night’s rest, we began Day 2 of X=Experience with a delicious breakfast at Rat’s, followed by a welcome address by our CEO, Udayan Bose. Next, we jumped right into the day’s events with our keynote presentation led by best-selling author and Marketing Professor at NYU, Adam Alter.
In Adam’s keynote presentation, he spoke about his in-depth research into the ways that outside forces affect our buying decisions. He explained how people often make choices towards things that are familiar to them, particularly to their own names. In one example, he showed how people tend to donate more money to hurricane relief causes when the hurricane is named something similar to their own name. (For example, I would be likely to donate more money to a Hurricane Emily relief cause than one for a Hurricane Kelly). He also spoke about sound symbolism, which is the way that we associate different things to different sounds. When it comes to business, Adam recommends keeping your product names simple (unless they’re luxury brands), using sounds that your customers may be familiar with, and to make sure your name meshes with the product or service.
Next, David Bell, Marketing Professor at UPenn’s Wharton School of Business, delivered his presentation on how in the world of e-commerce, location is (still) everything. This presentation covered the surprising influence that the real world has on how we search, shop, and sell in the virtual one. Prof. Bell walked us through three case studies for three unique businesses that showed the ways that each business’s online and offline experience work together throughout the customer purchase path. In one example, Prof. Bell explained how when Warby Parker, a glasses retailer, added a showroom option for customers to try on glasses at, their sales increased by 8.8%, as did their overall operational efficiency.
After we broke for lunch and took a tour of all of the beautiful works of art at the Grounds for Sculpture, we began our second new feature for this year’s event– the Think Session. We believe that when great minds meet, magic happens, so we gathered all of our attendees for a group brainstorm and strategic thinking session for a real-world business scenario that Balsam Brands is currently facing. After our Think Session moderated by Thomas Harman, CEO, and Caroline Tuan, COO, of Balsam Brands, we generated over 25 ideas that gave all of our attendees some ideas that they could implement into their own businesses as well.
To wrap up the day’s events, we concluded with a fascinating presentation on predicting purchase behavior by analyzing customer browsing patterns by Vishal Gaur, Professor of Operations Management and Associate Dean for MBA programs at Cornell University. This presentation explained that while retailers use mainly sales data to make their marketing decisions, customer browsing data is also incredibly important to consider. For instance, Prof. Gaur found that non-converting users typically have more sessions and spend more time on your site than your converting users do. Prof. Gaur also found that customers who have bought from you before typically have a larger basket size and greater shopping cart value. He showed how when it comes to dominating the online retail space, it’s crucial to understand how your users engage with your site.
Overall, it was an incredibly successful X=Experience, and we can’t wait to do it all again next year. Thank you once again to all of our attendees and speakers for making this year’s event one to remember!