With reference to the readings below and your own literature research, outline and critically assess the idea of ‘Experience marketing’ and discuss how it might impact on the way which we market into the future.
Experiential marketing is everywhere. In a spectrum of industries, companies have moved away from traditional marketing and moved toward experiential marketing. Building on Arnould and Price’s well-known “River Magic”(1993) paper on extraordinary experiences, marketers strive to engage consumers in a memorable way, offering them ‘extraordinary’ experiences to boost the desirability of their products. According to marketers, experiences provide consumers a way to engage physically, mentally, emotionally, socially and spiritually (Ames 1910) in the consumption of the product or service, making the experience with the product memorable and thus, worthy of purchase.
Why is Experiential Marketing Important?
There are four main causes for the emergence of experiential marketing. Firstly, all companies use traditional media to advertise their products. Thus, because of this abuse of traditional media, a different strategy is necessary for one company to be able to stand out from its competitors (Schmitt 1999). Secondly, it has become difficult for companies to compete for a fixed market share and at the same time, differentiate their products solely on mere product or brand characteristics. Thirdly, consumers are now more keen on marketing communications that are relevant for them as an individual and recognize their need for novelty items (Schmitt 1999). Fourthly, there is a growing need amongst consumers to be a part of the experiential aspects of consumption (Holbrook 2000; Holbrook and Hirschman 1981). This results in a less rational and more hands-on decision-making consumer (a total opposite to what traditional marketing assumes). This pivot in consumer nature calls for a different marketing approach.
For researchers in consumer behavior, an experience is above all a personal occurrence. It often holds an important emotional significance – an emotional ‘stimulus’ – to the consumer. This may lead to a deep, inbred feeling in the individual that the experience with the product was ‘extraordinary’ (Arnould and Price, 1993). Based on sociological research in consumer behavior, experience is a central element for today’s modern consumer. Consumers these days look for sense: “for the post-modern consumer, consumption is not a mere act of devouring, destroying, or using things. It is also not the end of the economic cycle, but an act of production of experiences and selves or self-images”(Vezina in Caru and Cova, 1999). As a consequence, a key concept has developed along with experience – immersion: the post-modern consumer is said to take pleasure “in being immersed” in the products they consume (Arnould and Price, 1993).
Indeed, there is the recognition of a “growing quest” on the part of the contemporary consumers for immersion into varied experiences. This is slowly evolving to become conceptualized as “embodied experiences” (Brakus, Schmitt, Zarantonello 2009). The root of this so-called experiential consumption is in the growth of services, for which the good that is purchased is an experience rather than a material object.
These factors, in short, led to the experiential approach in the study of consumption. The experiential approach now highlights the importance of variables that had previously been neglected: “the roles of emotions in behavior; the fact that consumers are feelers as well as thinkers and doers; the significance of symbolism in consumption; the consumer’s need for fun and pleasure; the roles of consumers, beyond the act of purchase, in product usage as well as brand choice, and so forth” (Vezina in Caru and Cova, 1999). This clearly shows the evolution of marketing, from traditional methods that presuppose the decision-making...
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