James Gilmore

Expert on Customer Interaction and Experience

James Gilmore
  • Described as a “professional observer,” sought by enterprises for his expertise in conceiving and designing new ways of adding value to their economic offerings
  • Co-author of the book, The Experience Economy, that spawned worldwide interest in experience design, customer experience management, and experiential marketing
  • As an in-demand speaker on business quality, he’s been published in a variety of esteemed sources, including The Harvard Review and The Wall Street Journal
  • Specializes in provoking executives to think more richly and constructively about growth and innovation

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As co-author of the book, The Experience Economy: Updated Edition (Harvard Business Review Press, 2011), Jim Gilmore literally wrote the book that spawned worldwide interest in experience design, customer experience management, and experiential marketing.

Tom Peters has called The Experience Economy “a brilliant, absolutely original book.” Now published in sixteen languages, the seminal volume continues to find new readers across myriad industries as companies find their goods and services commoditized and customers increasingly spending their time and money on experiences—memorable events that engage them in an inherently personal way.

Gilmore’s other book, Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want (Harvard Business School Press, 2007), contends that businesses must learn to manage authenticity as a distinct business discipline. As people encounter intentionally staged experiences in both their physical and digital lives, they want the real from the genuine, not the fake from some phony. Gilmore and his co-author Joe Pine, offer unparalleled insights concerning this new consumer sensibility. In 2008, Time magazine dubbed the core of Pine & Gilmore’s thinking “synthetic authenticity” in its cover story of “10 Ideas That Are Changing the World.”

Gilmore is co-founder of Aurora, Ohio-based Strategic Horizons LLP. He has been described as “professional observer,” sought by enterprises around the globe for his expertise in conceiving and designing new ways of adding value to their economic offerings. He is a frequent keynote speaker, as well as workshop facilitator and executive coach.

Gilmore’s ideas have been featured in numerous articles on business strategy and innovation for such publications as The Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, and Investors Business Daily, among others. He is also co-editor of Markets of One: Creating Customer-Unique Value through Mass Customization (Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2000).

He began his career with Procter & Gamble and then spent over ten years consulting with Cleveland Consulting Associates and Computer Sciences Corporation, heading CSC Consulting's process innovation practice before starting his own firm. Mr. Gilmore is currently a Batten Fellow and Adjunct Lecturer at the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia, where he teaches course on the Experience Economy. Gilmore is also a Visiting Lecturer in Apologetics at Westminster Seminary California, where he teaches a course on cultural hermeneutics. Gilmore also co-teaches a course on creative thinking at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD) and a design course at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University. He previously served as the 2002-2003 Dean Helen LeBaron Hilton Endowed Co-chair at the College of Family & Consumer Sciences at Iowa State University.

Gilmore is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a BS in Economics.

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Speaker Video

James Gilmore: The Design of Experiences

Differentiating Your Business In The Experience Economy. How does any enterprise prosper today? The key is offering compelling experiences that engage customers in a personal and memorable way. Offering goods and services is no longer enough to differentiate one’s business. In this talk, Gilmore not only describes the shifting dynamics in how value is being generated in advanced economies, he shares a portfolio of specific methods for staging revenue-generating experiences. And he illustrates each technique with exemplars that demonstrate how to create experiential value in very practical terms. Audiences walk away with insights on experience innovation as well as a rich set of tools for staging such experiences.

LOOK: Why Innovation Starts With Observation. Observation is key to innovation. The importance of observation is obvious: What we see drives what we think and what we do. Yet we live in an age of digital distraction, with our eyes increasingly directed at the myriad screens mounted on our walls, placed on our desks, held in our hands, even worn on our wrists. Seeking to restore an appreciation for the insights to be found in the everyday circumstances of our workplaces, homes, communities, and recreations, Jim Gilmore offers an observational tool called “Six Looking Glasses.” In this session, Gilmore will challenge the audience to examine how they spend time with their eyes, and then describe six different ways of looking, share a technique for developing observation objectives, and outline specific approaches to begin seeing the world anew.

Designing Experiences In The Digital Age. Addressing the tension between the physical and the virtual, this presentation opens with a short “pre-show” (think Pixar short-animation before the main feature film) that vividly visualizes the impact that “life on the screen” is having on the consumer landscape. What follows is an eye-opening survey of today’s consumer landscape via “A Year in the Life of Doug & Cheryl”—using one fictional couple as a Design Persona to help executives and managers see the world differently, through the eyes of everyday people. Then the bulk of Gilmore’s talk outlines six core approaches for successfully designing experiences in the digital age—customization, gamification, subscription, admission, transformation, and randomization—in a most thought provoking session.

Thinking About Leadership Thinking. Leadership requires ongoing thinking about the very leadership principles and practices employed to inspire, direct, and encourage an organization’s people as they work together toward common goals. In this talk, Gilmore walks through eight sources of useful thoughts to help leaders refresh and renew their own thinking about leadership. Each serves as a resource for future study as various issues are explored—ranging from assessing personal and professional friendships, orchestrating group dynamics, scanning cultural trends, improving observational skills, identifying future talent, seizing marketplace opportunities, enriching self-awareness, and fostering curiosity.

Authenticity: What Consumers Really Want. Everywhere one turns—in business marketing, political campaigns, non-profit charities, educational initiatives, even religious institutions—one sees appeals to and claims of authenticity. People want real food, real cities, real experiences, and real causes. Why? In this talk, Gilmore traces the history behind this contemporary consumer desire for authenticity, frames a discussion about different genres of authenticity, distinguishes the “real-fake” from the “fake-real,” and surprisingly introduces steps for deliberately gaining the perception of authenticity by, ahem, rendering offerings real. Really? Really.

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