Edited by Bernd H. Schmitt and David L. Rogers
Chapter 9: A Framework for Managing Customer Experiences
Bernd H. Schmitt Managers have applied the practice of experiential marketing to great success in a wide variety of industries. New trends in media, technology and society seem to be driving a move towards marketing experiences and not just the functional aspects of their products and services. There is, however, a more fundamental reason why any marketer should consider experiences and not only functional features and beneﬁts. For centuries, philosophers from Aristotle to Kant, psychologists from William James to Carl Rogers, and other popular thinkers from Steve Covey to Woody Allen, have repeatedly asked the questions: What motivates people? What makes life worth living? What is a good life? And the (admittedly vague but important) consensus is: something beyond mere need satisfaction; something beyond the constraints of ‘stimulus-response’ reactions; something that somehow transcends our lives. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a professor and former chairman of the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago, calls this something Flow. For Csikszentmihalyi, ‘Flow’ is about optimal experiences and enjoyment in life: ‘ﬂow through the senses’, ‘the ﬂow of thought’, ‘the body in ﬂow’, ‘other people as ﬂow’, and (yes!) ‘enjoying work as ﬂow’. Flow is in the mind, it is about ‘the making of meaning’; the ultimate goal is ‘turning all life into a uniﬁed ﬂow experience’ (Csikszentmihalyi, 1991). Interestingly enough, the German word for experience, Erlebnis, is etymologically related to the verb ‘to live’ (leben). Don’t let the ‘new age’ terminology disturb you. You can change the terms. The bottom line for...
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