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Experiential Discourse in Marketing - A Methodical Inquiry Into Practice and Theory

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The subject of this thesis is the experiential discourse in marketing: howexperience is researched by scholars as well as understood and delivered bypractitioners. While experience-based approaches have been accepted andimplemented by consultants, scholars have yet to comprehensively embraceexperience as an academically robust concept (Holbrook, 2007; Palmer, 2010).An experiential perspective seeks to delve deeper into cognitive and emotionallevels concerning consumption (Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982). In order to gaininsight into the intricacies of experience, a large data set consisting of conferencespeeches and interviews was qualitatively analyzed, applying content analysis(Kassarjian, 1977).The findings reveal that there are many lessons to be learned about howpractitioners design and deliver experiential offers. Compared to the cases often citedas part of the experience economy, which are typically manifested in retailenvironments, consumer products and staged events, the findings reveal a morenuanced discourse and a broader range of experience offerings representing manyindustries, including: hospitality, software, documentary film making, science,gaming, banking, and environmental design.The data shed light on several aspects worthy of further research. How anexperience adds value, supports values, and is meaningful to the user is crucial.Understanding a user’s goals is important in order to be able to design appropriateinteraction touch points yet allow fluid engagement. In addition to shaping experienceenvironments, whether physical or virtual, the findings reveal that practitioners exhibitan astute sensitivity to context and process. Moreover they are concerned with affording “flow,” meaning optimal experiences (Csikszentmihalyi, 2003): not only forusers but also for themselves. The focus on purposeful activity and change suggeststhat experience is part of an innovation discourse, potentially creating better offers andrelationships. This resonates with academic and business communities alike.

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Lynn Kahle

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