Recently, demand has increased for products, services, and experiences that facilitate consumers' ability to withdraw from a technologydriven, multitasked, fast-paced, and typically urban world. For example, over 20,000 spas in the U.S. generate $15.5 billion in revenue (International Spa Association, 2014). More recently, coloring books for adults, which enable them to achieve respite from stress-filled, overstimulated lives, dominate lists of bestselling books (Harrison, 2016). Increasingly, people who seek respite from an "age of incessancy" (Prochnik, 2011, 12) are turning to the marketplace for solutions. But despite the increase in demand for such offerings, there is little understanding of how and why consumers acquire them. Rather, the long-dominant paradigm of the "experience economy" (Pine II and Gilmore 1999) advocates offering consumers sensory-laden, stimulating marketplace experiences. Likewise, most research on retail atmospherics centers on how to keep customers excited, thrilled, and stimulated (Fulberg 2003; Lesser and Kamal 1991; Wakefield and Baker 1998), implying these outcomes yield optimal outcomes for firms and consumers. Yet the increased demand for offerings such as Bose noise-reducing headphones, Amtrak Quiet Cars (Gallagher 2014), and even monastic retreats may indicate that the experience economy paradigm is overlooking consumers' needs to leverage the marketplace to achieve peace, quiet, and associated consumer-welfare benefits. We address this theoretical and empirical gap by exploring an emergent construct that we label "marketplace tranquility" (MT). In so doing, we explore these questions: 1) How do consumers understand tranquility in general (GT), and how do they perceive it differs from MT? 2) What marketplace resources and practices do they identify as potential sources of tranquility? 3) What motivates consumers to seek out these sources? Our main contributions of this admittedly exploratory study are to demonstrate the salience of MT to consumers, and to show how they perceive MT as meaningfully different from GT. In short, while consumers perceive GT as abstract and often unattainable in a hyper-urbanized, hectic world, they conceptualize MT as a "practical" form of tranquility - one both accessible and useful in their pursuit of life goals. Furthermore, consumers now seem to take it for granted that the commercial sphere will, and should, provide opportunities for them to try and achieve tranquilityrelated outcomes. Below, we discuss current academic understandings of tranquility, and differentiate it from distinct but related constructs. We then explicate our methods, analyze our research questions, discuss the paradoxes inherent in MT, and offer ideas for future research.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||4|
|Journal||Advances in Consumer Research|
|State||Published - 2016|
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Psychology
- Economics and Econometrics