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Experiential positioning: Strategic differentiation of customer-brand relationships


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Effective positioning helps firms attract new customers in the short run, and helps build customer-brand relationships in the long run. In addition, effective positioning by the set of firms in an industry essentially decreases direct competition and offers potential customers choices in the market. While researchers and practitioners alike acknowledge the importance of strategic positioning to the firm’s success, current business trends and a lack of positioning research make executing an effective positioning strategy difficult for today’s managers. This research revisits the concept of positioning, introducing experiential positioning as a strategic process in which firms differentiate themselves on the basis of different experience propositions. This approach is especially appropriate for mature industries or those industries that inherently lack obvious opportunities for differentiation based on the core product or service alone. To demonstrate our conceptual framework we analyze a large sample of TV advertisements from the online brokerage industry during the growth period of 1999-2000 to demonstrate how firms in this industry effectively created different options for customers when core differences were rather minor. We use archetype analysis and relationship theory to identify the basic forms of relationship experience available within the category of online trading, demonstrating the viability of our approach for positioning in similar market contexts.
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Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
Dan Padgett (USA), Michael S. Mulvey (Canada)
Experiential positioning: strategic differentiation of customer-brand
Effective positioning helps firms attract new customers in the short run, and helps build customer-brand relationships
in the long run. In addition, effective positioning by the set of firms in an industry essentially decreases direct
competition and offers potential customers choices in the market. While researchers and practitioners alike
acknowledge the importance of strategic positioning to the firm’s success, current business trends and a lack of
positioning research make executing an effective positioning strategy difficult for today’s managers. This research
revisits the concept of positioning, introducing experiential positioning as a strategic process in which firms
differentiate themselves on the basis of different experience propositions. This approach is especially appropriate for
mature industries or those industries that inherently lack obvious opportunities for differentiation based on the core
product or service alone. To demonstrate our conceptual framework we analyze a large sample of TV advertisements
from the online brokerage industry during the growth period of 1999-2000 to demonstrate how firms in this industry
effectively created different options for customers when core differences were rather minor. We use archetype analysis
and relationship theory to identify the basic forms of relationship experience available within the category of online
trading, demonstrating the viability of our approach for positioning in similar market contexts.
Keywords: positioning, marketing strategy, service experience.
Effective positioning by the key players in a
category actually decreases direct competition by
avoiding the commodity trap of competing totally
on price alone (Levitt, 1991; Porter, 1980). While
most firms acknowledge the need to differentiate
their product or service from competitive offerings,
executing an effective positioning strategy can be
difficult. First, trends in today’s business
environment make positioning more complex, and
perhaps less amenable to previously used
positioning approaches. Information flows more
freely than in the past, which exposes similarities
between competitive offerings, and also provides
firms with opportunities to more quickly copy
successful product or service improvements. As a
result, many markets face a commodity situation
with direct price and feature competition. Long-
term brand-customer relationships are difficult to
establish and maintain in such situations, which has
prompted a significant shift in business practice.
Firms such as Disney, Ritz Carlton, and have shifted their strategic focus from
product or service features to offering consumers
holistic experiences (Pine and Gilmore, 1999;
Schmitt, 1999). As Foley and Fahy (2004) point out,
using experience for positioning presents new
challenges for strategy development. What is an
experience and how can it be used for competitive
advantage? How can experiences be used to
differentiate brands?
Though researchers have made considerable
advances in our understanding of positioning
© Dan Padgett, Michael S. Mulvey, 2009.i
measurement and representation (e.g., see Carroll
and Green, 1997; Green et al., 2000), both
practitioners and academics have called for more
research that develops the conceptual and strategic
aspects of positioning practice (e.g., Alden et al.,
1999; Myers, 1996). In light of the strategic shift
toward offering customers meaningful experiences,
our goal is to offer a framework for positioning that
considers “experience” as its key construct, and
demonstrate the application of our framework.
1. Experiential positioning
Experience is a keystone for understanding brands
(Lee and Shavitt, 2009). Following the work of other
marketing strategists (e.g., Pine and Gilmore, 1999;
Schmitt, 1999), we suggest the concept of
experiential positioning as a systematic approach for
differentiating the firm’s offering in the marketplace.
Experiential positioning is the strategic process of
understanding consumer desires, creating and
delivering a particular form of experience, and
communicating the firm’s proposed experience to
consumers in a way that differentiates the brand from
competitors in the consumer’s mind. Our concept of
experience is founded in narrative psychology, and
has been applied before to consumption situations.
Consumer behavior researchers suggest that
experience includes the customer’s subjective
responses (sensations, thoughts, feelings, actions,
etc.) to consumption situations (e.g., Arnould and
Price, 1993; Celsi et al., 1993; Holbrook and
Hirschman, 1982). Communicating and understanding
experiences — including consumption experiences –
are possible because people within a culture draw on
the same set of general experiences (E. Bruner,
1986). The general experience we use to make sense
of our restaurant encounter provides us with
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
expectations and norms for the people involved in the
episode (customer/employee roles), the action
sequence (script or plot), the setting (physical, social,
and temporal environment), and so on. In effect,
people use stories (or narratives) they know to
understand what role they are to play, what role
others in the episode will play, how those in the
episode will act, the likely sequence of events, and
possible reactions (sensory, affective, cognitive, and
behavioral) to the episode (J. Bruner, 1986, 1990).
These general experiences are encapsulated in
mythology, folklore, history, religion, and other
stories used to communicate the culture’s values.
The preceding discussion has several critical
implications for implementing experiential
positioning effectively. First, firms must understand
the range of possible general experiences associated
with the consumption of their particular product or
service, and develop some mechanism for assessing
the relative importance to consumers of the different
general experiences for the category. Second,
experience represents the customers’ responses
during product/service consumption as they interact
with the firm. Customers play an active role in
producing the experience, which forces firms to
think more carefully about the nature of the
customer-brand interaction as it affects the
experience. Third, because experience is a private
event for each consumer, firms must take into
consideration the likelihood of multiple
interpretations of their experiential positioning
strategy. For example, an advertisement depicting a
Harley motoring down a lonely stretch of country
road might arouse feelings of excitement and fun in
one consumer, yet symbolize danger for another
consumer. Finally, because experiential positioning
is based on delivering experiences consumers
desire, firms have to change their experiential
offering as consumer desires for different
experiences change. Can firms build flexibility into
their experiential positioning strategy? How can
changes in experiential positions be managed over
2. Creating the experience
Given the conceptualization of experience we draw
from, we can summarize the requisite elements for
creating an experiential positioning as including: 1)
a theme, 2) characters (simplified via using
archetypes), 3) a plot or action sequence, and 4) a
setting (including the physical, social, and temporal
context for the action).
The first consideration for the firm in designing an
experience should be to identify a common theme
for the experience. A theme helps focus the strategic
effort by ensuring consistency in the experiential
marketing mix, which provides consumers with a
unified experience (Pine and Gilmore, 1998, 1999;
Schmitt, 1999). Also, a theme highlights specific
“experiential providers” (Schmitt, 1999) for
delivering the experience. For example, United
Airlines theme “Fly the Friendly Skies” emphasizes
friendship, which implies personnel will be a
significant component of the experience for
customers. Selecting and training personnel with
good interpersonal skills is a critical element for
delivering this theme. In contrast, the Hard Rock
Café, with its themes of rock music and café
primarily emphasizes the physical (café) and social
environment (hard rock, energetic, etc.) required to
deliver the experience.
After deciding on a theme for the experience, the
firm must decide how the characters will interact to
influence the customer’s experience. Since
consumers’ knowledge of social interactions (i.e.
their general experiences) is embedded in the myths
and stories they know (Levy, 1981), firms can use
common character types, or archetypes, from
common stories to represent and structure their
interaction to customers. Archetypes come in dyads
(e.g., father/son, ruler/subject, teacher/student), and
have specific functions and social roles determined
by the cultural norms for specific forms of social
relationship. For example, in a master/servant
relationship, we would expect the master to give
instructions, which are carried out by the servant.
The use of specific archetypes will determine the
type of relationship between the customer and the
firm and the expected roles and activities of each
partner during the experience. The archetype dyad
should be integrated with the action sequence that
makes up the customer’s experience. In what order
should events occur, and who performs each action
necessary to complete the interaction? For example,
if the firm uses the master/servant dyad, then the
customer will initiate the action and guide the action
with instructions that the firm will carry out.
Planning the action sequence from both the
customer’s point of view and also the firm’s point of
view provides a plot for the action to follow and
identifies key interaction points that can be used to
enhance the experience.
To support the archetype dyad and the action
sequence required to deliver the experience, the firm
must design an environment that enhances the
experience. The environment includes social,
physical, and temporal components. Many firms are
capitalizing on the physical (or virtual)
environments in which they deliver the product or
service to influence the customer’s experience
(Bitner, 1992). However, our framework also
highlights the importance of the social and temporal
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
environment. The social environment should
support the archetype dyad while the temporal
environment will primarily be integrated with the
action sequence. The environment constrains the
activity during the experience and can provide
situational cues that the customer uses to navigate
and interpret the situation.
3. Communicating the experience
Having created an experiential form of interacting with
the customer, the firm must decide how to
communicate their experiential offering to consumers
(e.g., Foley and Fahy, 2004; Schmitt, 1999). We liken
the role of communication in the process of
experiential positioning to the use of personal
advertisements. Like individuals who use personal
advertisements, firms must communicate complex
messages succinctly using cultural norms. Archetypes
allow firms to communicate what they are, who they
want as customers, and also what they are not, and
what type of customers they do not want. Consumers’
likelihood of responding to personal advertisements is
an interactive function of their evaluation of the suitor,
as well as a self-evaluation that assesses compatibility
and potential for a relationship. Advertising scholars
suggest a similar process in relationship building for
firms via advertising (e.g., Stern, 1988; Fournier,
1998). In effect, the firm will make a proposition — an
experiential proposition — that will present the
consumer a specific form of experience if the customer
interacts with the brand. The set of brands in the
category will offer competing propositions that will be
accepted or rejected by different segments of
4. Methodology
Using the domain of online brokerage services as a
case study, we analyzed a large sample of TV
advertisements from general and investment programs
from late 1999 and early 2000, a period of high growth
for the brokerage market, to examine how firms
propose different kinds of investing experience.
We reviewed over 200 hours of programming,
which yielded 310 brokerage advertisement
exposures, consisting of 106 unique executions,
representing 27 companies. We restrict our
discussion to the 17 firms that had a minimum of 3
distinct advertisement executions.
We used a four step process to analyze the positioning
structure evidenced in the advertisement set. In Step 1
we analyzed each advertisement using Burke’s
Dramatistic Pentad (1969) to identify characters and
their motives, plot, and setting elements. In Step 2 we
looked for patterns across the different executions
within each brand to develop a general theme,
archetypal relationship (see Pearson 1991 for a formal
classification), plot, and setting to arrive at a specific
experiential position for each firm. In Step 3 we
analyzed the deeper structure of the entire system of
advertisements by analyzing similarities and
differences between the different experiential positions
across firms (c.f. Floch, 1988; Langholz-Leymore,
1987). In Step 4 we examined the shadow forms of the
customer and firm archetypes. The shadow form
typically represents a negative extension of the
primary archetype (e.g., father can be nurturing or
abusive). This stage recognizes that meaning derives
not only from what appears in the advertisement, but
also from what is absent (Stern, 1996). Thus, Step 4
deconstructs the messages to bring underlying
assumptions to the surface and reveal possible
alternative interpretations of the brands’ experience
propositions and position.
5. Results
Each advertisement was examined to identify
elements of an online trading experience. Table 1
contains a synopsis of the four Datek advertisements
analyzed in our study. While each advertisement
provides an execution of the experiential position
for Datek, methodologically, the more critical level
of analysis was the firm level analysis, where the
firm’s experiential position (aggregate characters,
their relationship, plot, and setting cues) is repeated
and reinforced across advertisements in a campaign.
From Table 1, we can see that the four Datek
advertisements work together to create and reinforce
an experiential proposition labeled “The Berlin
Wall”. United by the tagline “The rules are
changing”, the campaign presents a variety of
scenarios that show how the old regime is being
forced out of power. Datek, cast as a revolutionary
warrior, leads the revolt against the unjust traditions
that gave Wall Street insiders an advantage over less
privileged investors. Prospective customers are cast
as the oppressed masses — archetypal orphans who
have suffered the abuses and injustice of the system.
Table 1. Synopsis of Datek advertisements
execution Description of events in the advertisement Interpretation of events
Walls coming down
Hordes of people assemble at the stock exchange and find
themselves separated from the action on the trading floor. They
press against the glass and doors until the walls come down and
the masses flood the trading floor signaling that Wallstreet’s
technological tools are now available to everyone.
“Information is fundamental to investing. Why should elitist
professional brokers be so privileged and hold an unfair
advantage at the expense of the masses? Datek challenges the
status quo and tears down the barriers that restricted peoples’
access to information and technology.”
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
Table 1 (cont.). Synopsis of Datek advertisements
execution Description of events in the advertisement Interpretation of events
Doctor tells broker
Checking his patient’s blood pressure, the elder doctor asks the
young man (a broker) if he is stressed about the rising popularity
of online investing. The patient retorts that it is not the same; he’s
a Wall Street professional. The doctor states he has access to
continuous information, just like at the exchange. The broker
gazes ahead, perplexed, mouth agape.
“Can’t wait to tell that young, cocky, know-it-all broker that you no
longer have a use for his services? Datek makes full-service
brokers obsolete with their information technology.”
Heard about
Playing racquetball, two Wall Street brokers have a conversation
about George, a software guy who was able to buy a stock
(presumably a hot IPO). Faced with the fact that they no longer
hold a monopoly on trading, one of the brokers mutters, “I hate
that guy.”
“The tables have turned. After being taken advantage of by
brokers for years and years, investors can now place their own
trades and have equal access to IPOs. The Wall Street empire is
crumbling and brokers are anxious. Revenge is sweet.”
Why me?
Sitting at a table in a cocktail lounge, a young broker (who has
only been working a year) laments how Internet trading has
messed up his career plans. He asks: “What’s going to happen to
guys like me?” to which another man replies “Thought about
getting your own website?”
“It is the end of an era. Investors are switching to online
brokerages to place their trades. No longer able to profit from
customers’ commissions, brokers are faced with the daunting
prospect of having to earn their money. Sweet irony.”
Datek comes to their rescue and rallies the
underdogs against a common enemy (full-service
brokers) by exposing the hidden truths of Wall
Street. Metaphorically, the firm pulls back the Iron
Curtain to reveal freedoms that were impossible
under the old rules (a.k.a. Communism). Now it is
time for the masses to enlist and arm themselves
with Datek’s technology to defend themselves
against further abuses. Table 2 lists each firm’s
experience proposition and identifies the dominant
customer and firm archetypes and roles that
constitute the relationship.
Table 2. Experiential propositions: online trading and investing
Experience proposition
Firm/Customer archetypes
(Literary types) Firm characterization Customer characterization
“Believe in yourself”
The American Dream
Buddy / Buddy
(Magician / Lover)
Liberator celebrates the
democratization of trading by offering
all people (regardless of age,
ethnicity…) the opportunity to
Underdogs celebrate freedom with
passion; eager to prove worthiness and
strive to “be the master of your
“The rules are changing”
The Berlin Wall
(Warrior / Orphan)
Freedom fighter levels the playing
field by providing the masses with
the same technological advantages
enjoyed by the elite.
Tired of being exploited and excluded,
masses of investors are poised to seize
control of their finances by joining the
do-it-yourself revolution.
“It’s time for E*Trade, the #1 place
to invest online”
Revenge of the Nerds
Muse / Underdog
(Magician / Orphan)
Sympathetic supporter urges
mistreated investors to stand up to
bully brokers, to take control and let
their intellect prevail.
They’re been laughed at, picked on,
and put down by brokers. The time has
come for them to use intellect and
ambition to get even.
“I trade my way with
My Track”
Fantasy Sports Camp
Genie / Contender
(Magician / Fool)
Responsive firm grants aspiring
investors’ wish to gain access to
advanced trading equipment used by
Wannabe investors seek the
opportunity to trade like the pros using
the same equipment used in the big
“The smart tool for smart
The Expedition
Outfitter / Prospector(Sage / Seeker)
Merchant peddles essential
technological tools at bargain prices
to support individuals’ financial
Self-confident visionaries persevere to
blaze a trail to financial success by
thinking and acting independently.
(by Fidelity)
“Online trading gets personal”
Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Q / 007 (or other agent)
(Sage / Seeker)
Gadgetry expert invents
customizable Palm-based trading
tool that lets investors trade
anywhere, anytime.
Experienced investor looks for a
personalized technological gizmo to
gain the upper hand.
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
Table 2 (cont.). Experiential propositions: online trading and investing
Experience proposition
Firm/Customer archetypes
(Literary types) Firm characterization Customer characterization
“XPRS YRSLF” [express yourself]
Servant / Master
(Caregiver / Ruler)
Experienced, devoted staff efficiently
executes assigned duties
(transactions) unsupervised.
Busy, focused investor wants to
complete tasks without any hassles to
meet ambitious personal goals.
“Putting our reputation online”
Consultant / Client
(Sage / Sage)
Skilled team of experts has a
reputation for gathering up to date
(and often exclusive) information
from many sources for clients.
Conservative information-seekers know
what they want (and know what they’re
talking about).
“Your investments. Your way
The Mission
God / Missionary
(Creator / Lover)
Venerated, enigmatic firm delights
users, answers their prayers in times
of need via 24/7 1-800 line.
Enthusiastic users praise firm and
spread the good news to others.
“Invest with ambition”
My Big Brother
Big brother/Little brother
(Caregiver / Innocent)
Caring family member offers words
of encouragement, always on the
lookout for risks, comes to the
Neophyte investor strives to navigate a
path to financial success in perilous
market environment.
“We take you under our wing”
Boarding School
Instructor / Pupil
(Caregiver / Orphan)
Self-assured educator teaches the
unskilled how to manage
investments, touting credentials by
showing awards.
Inexperienced and uninformed
investors rely on NDB University to
develop their investment skills.
“Creating a world of smarter
Teacher / Student
(Caregiver / Seeker)
Trustworthy educator helps investors
develop their decision-making skills.
Eager students seek to improve their
investment skills to shape their financial
“Success. One investor at a time”
“Know your source”
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice
Mentor / Novice
(Magician / Innocent)
Respectful mentor provides personal
attention to nurture and protect
individuals (who don’t yet fully
appreciate the perils of investing).
Aspiring investors recognize the limits
of their knowledge; seek the help of a
financial expert for tutoring and money
management wizardry.
“We help you invest responsibly”
Father-Son Talk
Emperor / Subject
(Ruler / Innocent)
Devoted father guards family’s
interests and dispenses advice to
temper novices’ exuberance.
Somewhat naïve in matters of
investing, novice hands over decision-
making power to seasoned veteran.
“Any way you want it”
Knights of the Round Table
Team / Boss
(Caregiver / Ruler)
Enthusiastic, devoted team works
around the clock to proactively
protect the client’s interests.
Sophisticated investor designates
responsibility to team and expects
results while offering limited
“America’s full service discount
Tailored Suit
Tailor / Professional
(Creator / Ruler)
Skilled artisan offers personalized
advice to suit individuals’ needs; cost
savings secures loyalty.
Busy, capable professionals hand over
portfolio management to expert; can
stay focused on life.
“Thank you
Paine Webber”
Disciple of Zen
Zen master / Disciple
(Magician / Fool)
Trusted advisor emanates peace and
caring, transforms client’s financial
reality and exorcises worries.
Grateful believer moves out of striving
to being; no longer anxious about
finances, able to enjoy life to the fullest.
Having established the consistency of advertisements
within campaigns, our attention turned to investigating
the patterns of experience portrayed across campaigns.
In certain cases it seems like firms are proposing the
same basic type of investing experience. In other
cases, the firms’ experience propositions are so distinct
that one wonders whether these firms are really
competitors, even though they are part of the same
industry. Such differences derive in part from the
degree of responsibility assumed by the consumer in
managing their investments. Indeed, firms can be
organized along a continuum from fully self-directed
to fully delegated, according to the roles presented in
their experience propositions.
Similarly, firms differ in terms of the level of
service they provide to consumers in the online
trading experience. Some firms portray themselves
as facilitators that simply ease consumers’ entry
into the arena of online trading by offering a
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
platform for placing trades. In contrast, other firms
offer a broad assortment of premium services such
as research reports, analytical tools, instruction,
and consulting or fund management. Thus, firms’
experience propositions can be sorted according to
two dimensions: (1) the type of interaction the
consumer has with the firm (technology-based /
independent versus human advisor-based /
dependent), and (2) the level of service provided
by the firm (basic versus premium).
Together, these dimensions create a system of
possibilities within which we can compare firms’
experience positions. The Figure 1 contains an
experiential positioning map that illustrates some key
similarities and differences between firms’ experience
propositions. Based on the analyses, the Figure
presents a snapshot of the relationship between firms’
experience propositions for the time period
investigated. We propose that the 17 experience
propositions can be reduced to five basic types of
experience: participation, safeguard, education,
control, and delegation.
The different positions represent clusters of firms that
offer similar experiences for customers. Firms offering
customers an experience labeled “Participation”
present customers with an opportunity to invest in the
market using online technology with a basic service
offering. Firms offering to “Safeguard” customers
form the market also provide a basic service, but with
a human advisor rather than technology interface.
Another cluster of firms offers customers an
“Education”, though how this is accomplished varied
among firms with some firms offering basic
information while others provided more sophisticated
services including access to financial advisors and
research. Firms offering “Control” provided a variety
of technology-based tools for investors to choose from
with limited firm interaction or guidance. On the other
hand, firms offering the “Delegation” experience
presented customers with an option to have the firm
handle the customer’s investments. It is worth noting
that the “Delegation” cluster contains most of the
traditional brokerage firms and is in essence simply
offering new customers access to the traditional
investing model using a human broker.
Technology-based Human advisor-based
Level of Service
Type of Interaction with Firm
“The American Dream”
“The Berlin Wall”
“Fantasy Sport Camp”
“Revenge of the Nerds”
“The Expedition” TD WATERHOUSE
“The Butler”
“Partnership” MERRILL LYNCH
“Knights of the Round Table”
“Disciple of Zen”
“The Mission”
“My Big Brother”
“Boarding School”
“Sorcerer’s Apprentice”
“Father-Son Talk”
“Tailored Suit”
“Her Majesty’s Secret Service”
Level of service
Type of interaction with firm
Fig. 1. Experiential positioning for the online investing market
Table 3 summarizes the essence of these positions,
highlighting the key differences between the clusters in
terms of the firm-customer relationship and the
associated roles in the service provision. For instance,
firms in the “Participation” cluster (Ameritrade, Datek,
E*Trade, and My Track) offer prospective customers
an opportunity to partake in the online trading
revolution. In contrast, firms in the “Control” segment
(DLJdirect, My Trade, Powerstreet, Suretrade, TD
Waterhouse) suggested customers to be experienced,
self-directed investors. Hence, firms in this cluster
offer sophisticated research and analytical tools to
support individuals’ decision-making styles.
Although most advertisements are centered on
communicating what type of firm they are and
what type of customer they are seeking, some
advertisements use parody, hyperbole, and puns to
reveal competitors’ shadow sides or to
demonstrate what they were not. Online brokers
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
employ this strategy routinely to undermine the
merit of employing a full service broker, while
more traditional brokerages countered to destroy
do-it-yourselfers’ illusions of competency and
control, highlighting the negative side inherent in
competitors’ positioning. For example, Morgan
Stanley Dean Witter’s (MSDW) experiential
proposition, labeled “Sorcerer’s Apprentice”,
features an assortment of advertisements that
offer a grim warning to investors who believe
they can work financial magic on their own. Like
the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, investors must be
aware of their limits and should not attempt to
exceed them.
Table 3. Experiential positions in the online brokerage industry
theme Key customer needs Customer’s cole Firm’s role
A. Participation
To be rescued
To become involved
Neglected investors band together with firm to
avenge past injustices committed by full-service
brokerages; suffer no longer by becoming self-
directed investors.
Make low cost self-service technology
available to consumers who have been
abused, ignored, or disrespected by
competitors. Feel (and remove) their pain.
B. Safeguard
To trust
Social acceptance
Neophyte investors depend on the assistance of
others. Trusts that the firm will take care of them as
they develop investment skills and looks to the future
with great optimism.
Offer a helping hand to novice investors who
are not fully aware of the perils of investing
online. Earn customer loyalty by resolving
technical troubles and answering their
problems when they call.
C. Education
Self improvement
Ambitious student on a quest to become a complete
investor seeks to expand knowledge and skill set by
learning lessons from a wise expert.
Instruct, coach and mentor student investors
according to their ability and motivation.
D. Control
Self-directed investor assumes full responsibility,
seeks objective information and tech tools to support
Lavish scientific research and technological
resources upon sophisticated self-directed
E. Delegation
Peace of mind
Maintain order
Pleasurable life
Realist has no desire to manage investments alone.
Appoints responsibility to another and trusts that they
will do a good job. Limits involvement to validating
key decisions; gets on with enjoying life.
Attend to customer requests with
compassion and respect. Create and
maintain a prosperous and peaceful
kingdom for the client; offer guidance and
advice when considered necessary.
6. Future research directions
Our results offer important possibilities for future
research. First, our results suggest the need for firms to
carefully consider the long-term consequences of their
initial experiential proposition. Given the
relational nature of the dyad, a key issue is how
the relationship between the customer and firm
evolves over time (see Deighton and Grayson,
1995; Fournier, 1998). Relationships vary in
intensity, level of commitment, duration, and
outcomes for both the firm and customer. From
our results, some of the propositions appear more
stable than others. For example, once Datek helps
its customers “free themselves”, then what? Once
liberated do they need the change catalyst
anymore? How does this influence the long-term
prospects for Datek? More study is needed to gain
a more thorough understanding of the trajectory
for the archetypal dyad relationships.
Second, though we reported a sample of findings
related to the shadow form for the different
archetypes, a more thorough study is needed to
understand how a target market reacts. Different
people may find different meaning in
advertisements (McQuarrie and Mick, 1999; Scott,
1994). As Lee and Shavitt (2009) point out, general
experiences are used to understand brand
interactions, but brand perceptions can be quite
stable across time and application. This raises key
questions. How stable are archetypes across
segments and time? Are certain archetypes more
open to shadow form interpretations? The concept
of experiential positioning provides a theoretically
based framework to examine these strategic issues.
Finally, though applied in the current case study to
the online brokerage industry, our framework for
experiential positioning should be applicable to
other market contexts. However, note that the
online brokerage industry represents a service, and
services by their very nature are more experiential
than durable goods. Hence, another potentially
fruitful option for future research would be to
investigate the applicability of our framework in
other contexts. Could manufacturers such as Proctor
Innovative Marketing, Volume 5, Issue 3, 2009
and Gamble benefit from considering the
“experience” of using their brands and hence,
develop experiential positions using common
archetypes? Would the choice of archetypes be
similar or systematically different for goods when
compared to services? Taken together, these
questions offer several important possibilities for
future research.
The analysis revealed several key findings. First,
from a managerial perspective, our framework
allowed us to identify differences across firms in
archetype dyads and the corresponding roles played
by customer and firm in the relationship. For
example, though Merrill Lynch and Fidelity
represented full-service input, they represent different
roles during the investing experience. Merrill Lynch
operates as a team that requires little supervision,
working to support the customer. Much of their work
occurs behind the scenes. In contrast, Fidelity
“protects” its customers by pointing them in the right
direction to keep them from being irresponsible with
their money. Notice Fidelity inverts the ruler role
presented by Merrill Lynch. Hence, role differences
were an important part of the experiential positioning
strategy of each firm, and the customer roles
represent different target markets. Our framework is
managerially relevant and could be applied by firms
in other market contexts to make strategy decisions.
Second, our case study demonstrated the robustness
of the experiential positioning framework. Based on
narrative psychology and literary theory, we used the
basic building blocks of archetypes, theme,
characters, plot, and setting to expose positioning
similarities and differences between firms and also
clusters of firms within the market. As a result, our
approach suggests that firms can use direct firm to
form competitive tactics when developing a
positioning strategy, but also suggests firms could
develop competitive strategies indirectly by drawing
comparisons to clusters of firms. For example, a firm
could try to compete directly with another firm by
highlighting the customer’s ability to speak directly
with a human advisor compared to another firm’s
lack of human support options, or use a more indirect
approach by comparing the human advisor access to
firms that only provide technology in a do-it-yourself
format. This multi-level approach offers a richer view
of the market structure than typical firm level
analyses, offering a more comprehensive approach to
positioning for practitioners and scholars.
Finally, in this case study we proposed and
demonstrated a methodological approach that
complemented our experiential positioning
framework. Beginning with an analysis of each
advertisement’s story foundation, we aggregated
the character types, plot, and setting cues using
Burke’s Dramatistic Pentad to represent the brand
level experiential proposition. We then aggregated
firms by examining similarities and differences
across experiential propositions to describe
clusters of firms with similar proposition to
express the underlying positioning structure of the
market. This approach provides a template for
other scholars and practitioners to follow when
conducting similar studies of positioning.
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... In addition, common service experience stories involve interactions between customers and other people (fellow passengers), service employees (flight attendants, security agents), companies (airports, duty-free), and technologies (ticketing kiosks, in-flight entertainment). By extension, researchers can measure the interactions in consumers' travel stories to determine the similarities and differences of travellers' experiences, creating the opportunity to compare experiences across consumers, service providers, and contexts (22,23). ...
... This structural approach, known as the Services Marketing Interaction Pyramid (22)(23)(24), can also be applied to study firms' actions. For example, airlines create new forms of service interaction (VIP concierge), rethink existing ones (self-check-in), or eliminate interactions (self-service lounge) to influence customer value perceptions and differentiate the brand from competitors. ...
... Other interactions represent retirement planning professionals, including accountants, brokers, financial planners, insurers, tax advisors, and even insolvency councillors. The idea of connected autonomy is alive and well on Wall Street, where brokerage taglines assert: "Creating a world of smarter investors" (Charles Schwab), "We help you invest responsibly" (Merrill Lynch), and "Thank you, Paine Webber" (23). Though some autonomous travellers may undertake do-it-yourself journeys, others prefer to delegate specific tasks to a service provider or collaborate to achieve desired ends. ...
This project investigates the tradeoffs and decision conflicts associated with pursuing connected autonomy in a later-life context. Based on the analysis of two thousand social media communications captured from Reddit's historical archives of posts and comments, the chapter examines the tensions that emerge in retirement travel decisions and the advice given to manage those tensions. The results delineate the challenges older adults face when travelling alone, along with commercial and interpersonal enablers that sustain individuals’ travel pursuits. Recommendations advocate for ways businesses can better support the pursuit of travel lifestyles in retirement. The path forward involves enhancing service delivery connections (facilities, employees, technologies, and other consumers) to foster optimal individual and group autonomy levels for older adults.
... In terms of theoretical contribution, our concept of experience originates from narrative psychology and has been previously adopted in consumer research (Padgett & Mulvey, 2009). The premise of narrative psychology is that humans naturally organize information in a story format (Padgett & Allen, 1997). ...
... Understanding B2B salespeople's employment experiences is an excellent way to characterize corporate culture because B2B salespeople within a corporate culture share the same set of general experiences (Bruner, 1986). These general experiences are expressed in story format to communicate the culture's values, norms, and expectations (Padgett & Mulvey, 2009). ...
... We also broaden the horizon of our understanding of narrative theory. The narrative approach has been adopted to study consumers and brands (Padgett & Mulvey, 2009;Woodside et al., 2008) in the B2C settings. Our study demonstrates that the narrative theory can also be applied to sales management in the B2B environment. ...
A good understanding of B2B salespeople's employment experiences could better inform strategies to enhance their job satisfaction and reduce job turnover. This study analyzed more than 50 K salespersons' social media posts on the job review website to identify the types of stories B2B salespeople tell about their jobs and employers. Building on narrative theory, we used Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) – a dictionary-based content analysis tool – to score the “W5” elements (who, what, when, where, and why) that constitute stories. Next, we analyzed differences in the patterns of language used and uncovered four clusters representing corporate cultures that we characterize as cultures of Work Rewards, Work-Life Balance, Workplace Malaise, and Toxic Interactions. Insights from this study can support the management of B2B salespeople and serve as a model for firms considering new automated text analysis approaches to studying employee engagement on social media.
... It is imperative that the personality patterns engendered by choice of archetype should resonate with consumers, as consumers tend to express their own personality, either actual or idealistic, with the products they purchase (Belk, 1988). Thus, brand archetype plays a pivotal role in the consumer's preference both in terms of his/her self-expression and association with the product (Belk, 1988;Plummer, 1985), rendering marketers' choice of archetype a strategic brand positioning tool (Padgett and Mulvey, 2009). ...
Purpose This paper aims to present an exploration of possible associations between the Jungian archetypes frequently used in marketing and three well-known products based on artificial intelligence (AI), namely, Sophia, Alexa and Articoolo. Design/methodology/approach The study conducted emotionalist interviews to gather thick data from 11 participants on how they conceptualize these AI-based products. In the absence of any existing relevant hypotheses, this paper attempts to build theory using a case study approach and qualitative analysis of interview narratives. Findings Despite the human attributes ascribed to these products, participants were principally concerned with their purpose, efficiency and the degree of trust which they felt could be accorded to the product. Anthropomorphism emerged as significant with participants making some associations with common archetypes traditionally exploited in marketing and this suggests a possible means of enhancing consumer trust in AI products. Originality/value Little research has been conducted on the marketing of AI and this study presents a timely identification of some potentially significant issues. As AI is intended to mimic some aspects of human intelligence, the role of the archetype in creating a personality to enhance trust may prove crucial in securing consumer confidence.
... There is a difference between concept of brand personality and brand imagery. Brand personality can play an important role in the consumer choice linked to self-expression in the sense of 'this is me' (Plummer, 1985) as well as a strategic brand positioning tool (Padgett and Mulvey, 2009). Allen and Olson (1995) addressed these three issues by viewing brand personality from a narrative perspective which helps understanding the processes by which consumers form personality impressions e.g., brand characters. ...
... There is a difference between concept of brand personality and brand imagery. Brand personality can play an important role in the consumer choice linked to self-expression in the sense of 'this is me' (Plummer, 1985) as well as a strategic brand positioning tool (Padgett and Mulvey, 2009). Allen and Olson (1995) addressed these three issues by viewing brand personality from a narrative perspective which helps understanding the processes by which consumers form personality impressions e.g., brand characters. ...
... First, content analysis was used to systematically code the configuration of attributes in the consumer networks. Second, content assessment techniques from the semiotic and literary criticism traditions (Burke 1969;Mulvey and Medina 2003;Padgett and Allen 1997;Padgett and Mulvey 2009) were used to analyze rhetoric in sociological terms. Together, these approaches brought order to the diverse and complex array of representations of consumer networks. ...
Conference Paper
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Consuming with others is different than consuming alone. Though most travel experiences unfold with friends, family, or strangers, travel advertising research has rarely studied the visual representations of the consumer-to-consumer interactions portrayed in ads. This paper attends to the visual and sociological qualities of consumer groups in ads and examines how such representations convey collective and relational goals that are integral to tourist and travel experiences. A study of 473 ads drawn from 82 travel magazines suggests new ways to convey the social value of travel experiences using advertising characters in diverse group configurations. Introduction The consumption of tourism is quintessentially a social activity as individuals plan, travel, eat, drink, sleep, tour, shop, and do countless other recreational activities together. Epp and Price (2011) warn that a failure to account for the collective and relational goals is likely to yield an incomplete and misinformed view of the true drivers of consumers' engagement in such activities. Tourism research that focuses on individual consumer pursuits and experiences is a viewpoint that contradicts practice, where advertisers routinely show collective consumption experiences. Consuming with someone else is different than consuming alone, and for that reason a sociological viewpoint is needed to understand how participation and social interactions shape the tourist experience (Achrol and Kotler 1999; Campos et al. 2015; Urry 1990). A shift in perspective is required to investigate collective consumption experiences (e.g., dining, canoeing, backpacking) accomplished by consumer networks (e.g., couples, families, friends). Individual researchers need to bring a sensitivity to the features of group life, and new sociological approaches are needed " to recognize the variations of meanings (perspectives) with which people act toward phenomena " (Prus 1987, p. 284). An important starting point is the adoption of " customer networks " as the unit of analysis, defined by Epp and Price (2011, p. 36) as: " a social structure made up of individuals who are connected by one or more specific types of formal and informal ties linked to purchase and consumption activities. " The purpose of this paper is to advance our understanding of the rhetorical power of depictions of consumers in travel advertising. We accomplish this by theorizing and demonstrating a socio-visual approach that attends to the portrayal of consumer-to-consumer interactions and relationships. By shifting the unit of analysis from individuals to consumer networks we aim to provide insight into the sources of collective and relational value that are often overlooked in tourism studies and to provide practical advice for tourism marketers.
... Brand Personality can play an important role in the consumer choice linked to self-expression in the sense of 'this is me' [10] as well as a strategic brand positioning tool [11]. The brand personality concept can be applied to anything from a product or service to a whole country [12] or tourism destination [13]. ...
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The aim of the paper is the alignment of C.G. Jung’s (1954) archetypes and Aaker’s (1997) brand personality framework in the context of advertising. C.G. Jung’s theories had a tremendous impact on psychology. David Aaker and his daughter Jennifer are seen by many as the branding gurus. Despite the fact that both frameworks refer to persons/personalities there is no publication linking the two frameworks. Our research tried to fill this gap by developing a joint framework combining Jung’s and Aaker’s attributes and apply it by analyzing two distinctively different TV commercials from Asian hotel chains. A total of 102 Executive MBA students had to watch both TV commercials and then conduct an Archetype (C.G. Jung) Indicator test and rate Brand Personality (Aaker) traits of the two commercials. Results show that there is common ground. This has implications for advertisers who may want to specify an archetype and related personality attributes for their promotional campaigns. Game changers in the hospitality sector may want to be seen as Outlaw whereas established hotel chains may position themselves as Lover with personality attributes such as welcoming, charming, and embraced.
... Brand is the personality; like, name, term, sign, symbol, or design, or combination of them, that identifies a product, service or company and how it associates to key electorates: customers, staff, partners, and investors (Simeon, 2006). Some people characterize the psychological expression, brand associations like thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, experiences, beliefs, and attitudes that become attached to the brand, of a brand from the experiential aspect (Padgett and Mulvey, 2009). By means of promoting value, image, or prestige branding must appeal and retain customers (Rooney, 1995). ...
The Book is an outcome of the National Seminar on Contemporary of Tourism Planning: Introspecting Problems and Prospects organised on 21st & 22nd April 2013 by the department of Tourism Adminstration, Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Marathwada University, Aurangabad in collaboration with Indian Tourism Congress, funded by Indian Council of Social Science Research, New Delhi. Following were the themes: 1. Tourism planning, development and policy 2. Tourism Marketing planning 3. Human resource planning 4. Tourism finance and economic planning 5. Contemporary tourism planning
This paper assesses how retail firms in Ghana pursue positioning activities. Overt observations, face-to-face interviews with staff, managers and mall intercept methods provide an insight into the positioning strategies of firms in the retail sector. We adopt an empirically based and generic consumer-derived typology of positioning strategies to obtain the results. The findings revealed that the dominant strategies are “service,” “value for money,” “attractiveness,” “reliability,” “top of the range,” selectivity, and “brand name.” The emphasis placed on each of these positioning strategies varies from firm to firm.
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This study addresses the issue of performance measurement for Cultural Organizations and especially for Non-Profit Performing Art Organizations. In recent years, the cultural sector has become more and more competitive, seeing a consequent increase in the number of associations created, along with a declining public funding and volunteer support. This phenomenon results in a need for these organizations to apply business principles in order to handle public and/or private funds in a more accountable way, and to improve their performance. The literature review shows that evaluating the performance of such organizations is a complicated matter, since they have multiple goals, and sometimes conflicting objectives, particularly when their legitimacy depends of an institutional acknowledgement, as in the case of some European countries that apply the Welfare-State model. Traditional measurement tools, such as financial results, are therefore inadequate or at least not enough, since they cannot help measuring qualitative outcomes, such as artistic achievement. A multidimensional approach is therefore necessary to encompass the diverse perspectives inherent to this kind of organization. After studying several previously used multidimensional performing measurement models, we will show that they all have one criterion in common: the client's satisfaction. The necessity of focusing on the customer leads us to consider assessing the client's experience from his/her own point of view. We will use 5 criteria that allow an in-depth understanding of the customer's experience: Reliability, Accessibility, Entertainment, Physical Comfort, and Personnel Leadership. With applying the Emotion chart measurement model to the case of the Theatre de la Cité Internationale de Paris, we demonstrate that the measurement of the client's experience is preponderant and a useful tool to appraise and improve the performance of PAOs. With the help of the 200 questionnaires filled in by the theater's audience, we reach a better understanding of the customer's expectations, and are able to give useful and concrete recommendations on how to enhance the quality of the service delivered by the Theater. Keywords: Experiential marketing, performance measurement, performing art organizations, non-profit organizations
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We distinguish seduction from persuasion and other ways to draw consumers into exchange relationships. A legal case involving the prosecution of a mail fraud known as Chonda-Za is used to illustrate seduction, and the concept is defined in terms of social constructionist theory. We identify five stages in the unfolding of a seduction and draw parallels and contrasts to the formation of a normal exchange relationship. We explore the enrollment stage in more detail and model it as a matter of inducing consumers to accept progressively more involving role agreements. The distinction between legitimate and illegitimate seduction is also examined. Copyright 1995 by the University of Chicago.
In this study, the authors examine the emergence of brand positioning strategies in advertising that parallel the growth of the global marketplace. A new construct, global consumer culture positioning (GCCP), is proposed, operationalized, and tested. This construct associates the brand with a widely understood and recognized set of symbols believed to constitute emerging global consumer culture. Study results support the validity of the new construct and indicate that meaningful percentages of advertisements employ GCCP, as opposed to positioning the brand as a member of a local consumer culture or a specific foreign consumer culture. Identification of GCCP as a positioning tool suggests one pathway through which certain brands come to be perceived by consumers as “global” and provides managers with strategic direction in the multinational marketplace.
A postmodern literary method of textual analysis is presented as a systematic approach to understanding the meaning of an advertising text. The method has three steps: identification of textual elements (the parts or literary attributes), construction of meaning (the whole, a sum of parts), and deconstruction (the unsaid assumptions that challenge singular meaning). The steps are demonstrated in a workbench analysis of a single advertisement. The author proposes that the addition of deconstruction to literary analysis of advertising text contributes to behavioral and cultural research on advertising by enabling researchers to "read" advertisements as expressions of contemporary consumer culture. Traditional language devices long thought to influence affective responses and memory are reexamined and future research directions suggested.
Consumer behavior depth interviews are grouped with other kinds of story telling-fairy tales, novels, psychological test responses, and myths-as imaginative statements that can be qualitatively interpreted for their functional and symbolic content. Drawing upon the Claude Lévi-Strauss approach to the analysis of myths, a structuralist interpretation illustrates application to the age, sex, and social status dimensions of food consumption.