ABSTRACT

After the marketing mid-life crisis during the 1980s, many marketers were hoping that the 1990s would involve a refocusing on relationship marketing and customer relationship management (CRM), a solid and innovative concept that highlights the relational sphere and its derivatives. Fifteen years on, this approach appears unfortunately to have gone as far as it can, largely due to marketing’s excessive rationalizing of the relationship between firms and consumers. As a result, the discipline is now placing its hopes on the concept of “Experience,” a notion that first arose in consumption and marketing studies in a seminal article written by Holbrook and Hirschman (1982): “The Experiential Aspects of Consumption: Consumer Fantasy, Feelings and Fun.” Twenty years later, experience has evolved to become a key element in the understanding of hedonistic consumer behavior. It has also become the main foundation for an experience economy (Pine and Gilmore, 1999), recently followed by the advent of experiential marketing (Schmitt, 1999, 2003), an area that tends to highlight immersion in consuming experiences as opposed to the mere purchasing of simple products or services. This type of marketing is supposed to offer a response to the existential desires of today’s consumers.