Academic journal article International Journal of Management and Marketing Research

Value Evaluation of Customer Experience Using Consumer Generated Content

Academic journal article International Journal of Management and Marketing Research

Value Evaluation of Customer Experience Using Consumer Generated Content

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT

The value literature has emerged from the fundamental notion of a trade-off between costs and benefits. This evolution supports the current understanding that value resides in experience from consumption. However, less is known about how customer experiences derived from their consumption can be translated into customer value components. This study delineates the models used in understanding the experience realm and customer value to provide insights on customers' experience based vale. Consumer generated content in the form of blogs are used for analysis. These blogs provide textual artifacts of consumption experience. Using netnography as the main methodological tool, our results suggest two main findings. The first is related to the variation in value dimensions according to the realm of experience which supports the notion of value being idiosyncratic with different customers viewing the same experience differently. The second finding is related to the technical aspect of the study which suggests that consumer generated content or blogs can be used to examine the 'what of consumption.' However, it cannot be used to explain the 'why of consumption.' This suggests its potential as a preliminary research tool to complement other research methods.

JEL:M31;M39

KEY WORDS: Customer Value; Consumption Experience; Consumer Generated Content (CGC); Travel Blogs; and Netnography.

INTRODUCTION

Customer value emerged as one of the most important topics both in marketing research and practice during the 1990s. Holbrook (2003, p. 46) emphasizes the importance of value to today's marketers by stating "... if we accept the Kotier' s definition of marketing as managerial activities that lead toward the facilitation and consummation of exchanges, and if we follow Kotier and Levy in regarding an exchange as a trading relationship between two parties in which each gives up something of value in return for something of greater value, it follows immediately that customer value is the basic foundation for everything we do in marketing". The current focus of value literature establishes that customer "value is now centered in the experiences of consumers" (Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004b, p. 137), rather than embedded in goods and services. Consequently, customers' experience is crucial as value resides in the experience (Bitner, 1992; Prahalad and Ramaswamy, 2004a, b; Woodruff and Flint 2006; Vargo and Lusch, 2008). Despite this shift in focus, there is very little evidence in the literature, of customer value evaluations being made based on experience.

Consumer generated content (CGC), also known as user-generated content (UGC) or user-created content (UCC) includes various kinds of media content such as blogs, wikis, e-review (www.pcmag.com) written by the general public and is publicly available on the web. The development of these technologies present today's customers as self-reflexive, narrative agents with a platform to tell their stories and explain their actions using their own words (Cam and Cova, 2008). Blogs are the most common CGC media, mostly used as online personal journals with reflections, comments and hyperlinks provided by the writer (Merriam Webster Online). Thus, blogs are naturally occurring data that can be regarded as textual artifacts of consumption (Bosangit et al., 2009). While extant literature has looked at customer value evaluations usually through surveys and/or interviews (Williams and Soutar, 2000; Sweeney and Soutar, 2001), the use of CGC in customer value evaluations is extremely limited.

To demonstrate value evaluation using CGC, travel blogs or blogs relating to consumer travel experiences was considered most appropriate. These blogs are generally travel diaries that are posted by bloggers to update family and friends of their whereabouts, to keep a record of their travels and to share their travel experience with others. Blogs of ecotourist experiences in Sagada and Banaue, in the Philippines was chosen for this paper. …

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