Harmonising value in a car’s interior using sensory marketing as a lens

Abstract: The human senses have always influenced people’s perceptions of thesurrounding environment and objects. As a consequence of the evolvement ofthe experience economy, research on the human senses has increasedsubstantially and attracted scholars from various research domains, includingsensory marketing. In the marketing domain, research emphasises that value iscreated when consumers experience brands, products, and servicescapes that areexciting and fun to interact with through the human senses. In accordance withthe service-dominant logic discussion, value is created from the servicesurrounding the product, such as the experience, which includes manufacturersand consumers. Although this has partly been captured under sensorymarketing, little is known of how sensory marketing cues contribute to brandexperience and brand value. Theoretically, it is emphasised that creating valueis a service process, where the manufacturer’s goal is to plan and design amultisensory brand experience facilitated by the human senses leading toconsumer value, as well as to enhance the brand as an image. Hence, the purposeof this dissertation is to understand and explain how value is created within acar’s interior by applying sensory marketing as a lens.To address the purpose, an exploratory sequential mixed methods approachwas employed to capture different aspects of creating value. The empirical dataare based on a case study with a global premium car manufacturer, focusing onhow value is created and offered within a car’s interior. The qualitative sequenceexplored how the manufacturer plans and designs a value proposition byembedding sensory cues in the car’s interior. Furthermore, how value-in-use iscreated by providing a brand experience is analysed. The quantitative sequenceexamined the relationship between brand experience and brand image to explainhow consumer value as an experience is created.The dissertation concludes that creating value in the car’s interior followsthe logic of service-dominant logic and includes manufacturers and consumers.For the manufacturer, this was a strategic process to position the automotivebrand as premium by offering value in the car’s interior. To achieve this, valuewas planned and designed by embedding sensory cues in the car’s interior.However, sensory cues were not embedded in isolation; rather they wereharmonised with another to gestalt the coherent theme of Scandinavia in termsof colour, material, and shape to provide consumers with a brand experience forsense-making. Moreover, it was demonstrated that not all brand experiencedimensions impact brand image to create value as an experience. The resultsshow that sensory, affective, and harmony experience have a positiverelationship with brand image, which generates the consumer’s value as anexperience.Overall, the dissertation contributes to the process of creating value in thecar’s interior by relating sensory marketing with branding and service-dominantlogic, with harmony uniting these. Similar to an orchestra, where the conductorstrategically organises various instruments on the stage to play a harmoniousmelody for the audience, the manufacturer uses the car’s interior as a stage withsensory cues to provide consumers with a harmonious brand experience, leadingto a positive brand image. Harmony has been identified, operationalised,measured, and tested with a positive result. Theoretical, managerial, and ethicalimplications are discussed.