The business environment in the twenty-first century has been ever evolving, and to maintain competitive within the environment, many marketing efforts have shifted, from the traditional marketing to experiential marketing. Disneyland theme park is a very successful example of an experiential retail environment. The outstanding effort in marketing has assisted the company to achieve their world-class status. This essay discusses the experiential retail environment of Disneyland, particularly Hong Kong Disneyland and how Disneyland makes use of experiential marketing strategies to create symbolic meaning to the locals in Hong Kong with consideration of their cultural backgrounds and lifestyle. Due to personal backgrounds and cultural differences, no single one consumer would have the same experience and symbolic meanings from Disneyland.
Schmitt (1999) describes ‘experiential marketing view consumers as rational and emotional human beings who are concerned with achieving pleasurable experiences.’ There are four important characteristics in experimental marketing; a focus in customer experiences, a focus on consumption as a holistic experience, customers are rational and emotional animals and methods and tools are eclectic. These are shown in Figure 1 below.
FIGURE 1: Characteristics of Experiential Marketing (Adapted from Schmitt, 1999)
In addition to these four characteristics, experiential marketing also includes strategic experiential modules (SEMs); sensory experiences (sense), inner feelings and emotions (feel), creative cognitive experiences (think), physical experiences, behaviours and lifestyles (act) and self-identity relating to reference groups or cultures (relate) (Schmitt, 1999). To broaden the experiential appeal, many successful brands employ a combination of these elements in their marketing efforts.
Walt Disney is one of the many companies that employ the use of experiential marketing – Disneyland. Disneyland is known as a successful innovator in the world of animation and movies; however, Disney’s vision goes further beyond (Vachalek, 2009). The crucial element that brought the Disney brand to real life was the Disneyland theme parks, allowing people to experience the magic of their films and characters outside the cinema (Vachalek, 2009). The very first Disneyland was opened in 1955 in California. Since then, Disneyland has established itself in many other countries, including Tokyo, Hong Kong, Paris and many more. Alan Bryman (1999) proposed the idea of ‘Disneyization’ - ‘the process by which the principles of the Disney theme parks are coming to dominate more and more sectors of American society as well as the rest of the world’ (Bryman, 1999). He identified four trends in Disneyization: theming, hybrid-consumption, emotional labor and merchandising. However, only the former three elements will be discussed with reference to the Hong Kong perspective.
Theming has developed into an important element, ‘Theming turns a...