Consumer experience tourism and brand bonding

post by : Rapin Laurelia

Mitchell, M. A., & Orwig, R. A. (2002). Consumer experience tourism and brand bonding. Journal of Product & Brand Management, 11(1), 30-41.

As creating a loyal and strong bond with the customers is one of the main objectives of companies, the brands start giving the opportunity to the consumers to be able to assist the process of a product’s creation and the way that the company works. They are creating plant tours of manufactures, company museums or company visitor centers which are part of an integrated marketing communication efforts. The main goal is to reinforce the relationship between the brand and the customer and to get this one more involves into the process of production. This is the consumer experience tourism (CET) and this kind of tourism is known under few names as manufacturing tourism, industrial attractions, industrial tourism or industrial heritage tourism. And it is an excellent way for the customer to learn about the brand’s operation, production process and history and will help him/her to identify himself/herself better with the brand and feel more involve with the brand. Nowadays, tourists in United States like to go to winery’s tours (about 1.500 wineries) as well as brewery (about 1.000) because it includes a tour and a tasting part. The customers are more interesting about local products that you can find only at one place and make it a unique experience. But, despite the fact that manufacturing tourism are very popular, consumer experience tourism tours are considered as a low-cost entertainment option because most of them are free or need just a nominal fee. But that is positive for the schools and for any educational interests. Moreover, tours of factories have attracted people because the shift to an economic society has created a nostology through industrial and manufacture work and the public is looking to find this atmosphere back. The targets identified for this kind of tourism are current and potential consumers of the product. Other targets are business partners and corporate stakeholders (corporate managers, future or current employees, new sale agents, industrial suppliers) because it is a good way to establish trust between them and the company. But also the community stakeholders as community residents, shareholders, politicians, dignitaries and reporters because it is a good mean of communication. The main outcomes that the companies are looking for with this experience are the growth in buyer loyalty, more sales, a higher profitability and a bigger markets share. But also a better image in order to build a trustful relationship with local residents. Create an educational experience to present the company to the consumers and the employees, an open communication with free press and positive word-of-mouth and more stability because the revenue of the tours can help financially the company. There also are 3 important elements about the geographic location of a company tours that influence its success, they are a positive economic growth with others existing tourism offerings, a well-developed transportation systems to move visitors easily to the sites and an existing hospitality accommodations. Some companies also had the great idea to create a virtual plant tour that is broadcasted on the internet in order to reach more consumers and that can be visited from anywhere at any time.