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Bringing sensory anthropology to consumer research

Scott, Rebecca and Uncles, Mark 2018. Bringing sensory anthropology to consumer research. European Journal of Marketing 52 (1/2) , pp. 302-327. 10.1108/EJM-05-2016-0274

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Purpose Multisensory stimulation is integral to experiential consumption. However, a gap persists between recognition of the importance of multisensory stimulation and the research techniques used to study the effects of such stimulation on consumption experiences. This article draws on sensory anthropology to narrow the gap. Design/methodology/approach Sensory anthropology has the potential to help consumer researchers understand multisensory stimulation and its effect on consumption experiences. To highlight this potential, ethnographic fieldwork is reported for two related experiential settings: yacht racing and adventure racing. Findings It is shown how consumer researchers can apply concepts and data collection techniques from sensory anthropology to derive powerful insights into consumption experiences. A set of guidelines and examples is derived from the embodied concepts associated with sensory anthropology, namely, kinaesthetic schema, bodily mimesis, the mindful body and local biology. These concepts are used to comprehend how consumers experience sensations phenomenologically, understand them culturally and re-enact them socially. Practical implications By acknowledging and engaging the senses, researchers can acquire embodied information that would not be evident from the conventional interview, survey or experimental data. Sensory anthropology adds to what is known from psychological, social and cultural sources to enable organisations to differentiate their offerings by means of the senses and sensory expressions, not only in yacht and adventure racing but potentially in many other experiential settings, such as travel, shopping, entertainment and immersive gaming. Originality/value This article offers distinct and original methodological insights for consumer researchers by focusing on concepts and data collection techniques that assist the study of experiential consumption from an embodied and corporeal perspective.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Business (Including Economics)
Publisher: Emerald
ISSN: 0309-0566
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 16 August 2017
Date of Acceptance: 28 April 2017
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2018 06:58

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