Shifting Consumption Experiences to the Digital World

Shifting Consumption Experiences to the Digital World

Raquel Castaño (EGADE Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico) and Sandra Nuñez (EGADE Business School, Tecnologico de Monterrey, Mexico)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4831-7.ch017
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Abstract

As competition intensifies and goods and services become more and more commoditized, consumers increasingly look for experiential value in their consumption. Beyond the utilitarian function of a product, consumers seek to engage in memorable experiences. The experiential view requires orchestrating employee-training and information systems in a way that the service credo is in the heart of every employee. The brand needs to keep in touch with what customers- of all ages-, are looking for today. This paper will discuss the meaning of consumption experiences. We will then focus on the experiential aspects of consumption and, finally, on constructing experiences in a digital world. Overall, this article is intended to provide managerial guidance based on recent research findings on consumption experiences.
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Introduction

The Ritz-Carlton is consistently rated as one of the best international hotels. Some examples of customer reviews state: “Exemplary service and stay”; “I have never experienced such incredible customer service in my life”; “Hotel was beautifully decorated and clean, the service was outstanding…everything about the experience was amazing”. Ritz´s processes, leadership, people and culture are aligned to achieve the goals of excellence in quality and service. The company transforms their employees to live the values of self-respect and dignity. Instead of training to a script, the company teaches its employees to deal with situations, both easy and difficult; and, gives them the tools to recognize guest behaviors and to respond appropriately and effectively (Solomon, 2015). The success of the company is also about the importance of getting close to customers, anticipating their needs, and exceeding their expectations. This may sound easy but requires orchestrating employee-training and information systems in a way that the service credo is in the heart of every employee. The brand does an amazing job in keeping in touch with what customers- of all ages-, are looking for today.

In addition to Ritz-Carlton, many other firms and organizations have made creating a superior consumption experiences for consumers a priority. As competition increases, goods and services become increasingly commoditized, more firms are trying to understand the consumption experiences of consumers. The Ritz-Carlton example teaches us that the best metric of service quality is no longer customer satisfaction nor customer recommendations but the consumer response to the question: “Do they really care about me…?”

This article will discuss the meaning of consumption experiences. We will then focus on the experiential aspects of consumption, and finally on constructing experiences in a digital world. Overall, this article is intended to provide managerial guidance based on recent research findings on consumption experiences.

Meaning of Consumption Experiences

Bernard Schmitt, a lead author in the area of customer experience management, defines experience as “private events that occur in response to some stimulation (e.g., as provided by marketing efforts before and after purchase).[…] Experiences result from direct observation and/or participation in events – whether they are real, dream-like or virtual” (Schmitt, 2008). The consumer experience is subjective and includes consumer’s cognitive, emotional, social and physical responses (Verhoef et al., 2009). It is also holistic, involving every aspect of the firm’s offering (Meyer & Schwager, 2007). It is relevant to mention that the consumption experience involves the total experience, including the search, purchase, consumption, and post-purchase evaluations.

The best consumption experiences are those that engage consumers in a unique, memorable way that consumers would like to repeat over time (Pine & Gilmore, 1998). Using qualitative research methods, particularly consumer stories or narratives, marketing researchers can gain a richer understanding of consumer experiences. Also through the aid of ethnography, researchers are able not only to understand what consumers are doing in their everyday lives but also to understand how consumers live and enjoy their experiences (Mariampolski, 2006).

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