This chapter analyses the different marketing approaches used by companies to manage consumption experiences. Ever since the seminal article by Holbrook and Hirschman on the subject (1982), consumer research has considered experience to be central to today’s consumers, looking for meanings to associate to their lives (Holbrook, 2000). Here, the consumption experience is understood as the set of phenomena whereby a consumer comes into contact with a product, service, brand, event or place, and generally occurs in the company of others who may or may not also be consumers. The cultural approach has led to an in-depth understanding of the consumption experience (Arnould and Price, 1993; Firat and Dholakia, 1998) that is in contrast to the better-known models in the areas of experiential marketing (Schmitt, 1999) and the experience economy (Pine and Gilmore, 1999). The aim of this chapter is to illuminate the contributions of different approaches to experience management in order to support managers in their everyday activities. The chapter begins with an overview of the prevailing experiential marketing models that seek to generate extraordinary and unforgettable consumer experiences through the creation of thematised, secured, and enclavised environments that emphasise sensorial stimulation (Pine and Gilmore, 1999; Schmitt, 1999; Hetzel, 2002). Creating experiential contexts generally means generating a set of stimuli (product, environment, activity) that allow access to the experience: not only points of sales (cfr. chapter 26) but also, for example, brand plants, events and websites. Adopting a cultural approach, the chapter then raises questions about the limitations of focusing on models of emotional induction which tend to overestimate the influence of sensorial factors on consumer experiences. These approaches represent just one of the ways of examining the topic of consumer experiences because these experiences occur throughout people’s daily lives and cannot simply considered as exceptional events. Moreover, they occur in a variety of contexts that are not exclusive to the market, and are produced not just by companies, but also by the consumers themselves. Finally, access to experience is not instantaneous, but instead requires a process of progressive appropriation. The chapter identifies ways in which companies can develop marketing approaches capable of supporting the appropriation of experiences by the consumer. Specifically, the chapter offers tools and methods by which marketers can support the consumer in the appropriation process: 1) support systems, including guides and referents; 2) collective actions involving communities and rituals; and 3) self-determination, including training and autonomy, eliciting autonomous participation.
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