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Reframing brand experience: The experiential meaning of Harley-Davidson

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  • Schembri, Sharon

Abstract

Beyond branding as a differentiation strategy, branding theory now recognizes the significance of social, cultural, and political relationships relating to brand consumption. In focusing on the consumer's experience of the iconic brand of Harley-Davidson, this work reports on more than three years of ethnographic research undertaken in Australia. The outcome is a description of the experiential meaning of Harley-Davidson for Australian consumers. The findings confirm and extend previous research (Martin, D., Schouten, J., McAlexander, J., Claiming the throttle: Multiple femininities in a hyper-masculine subculture. Consum Mark Cult 2006; 9 (3): 171-205.; Schouten, J.W., McAlexander, J.H., Subcultures of consumption: An ethnography of the new bikers. J Consum Res 1995; 22 (1): 43-61.) investigating the Harley-Davidson subculture. These findings are also particularly informative regarding the consumer's brand experience. The article argues that personal experience of Harley-Davidson embedded in a collective social act (in this case, the Australian HOG community) is a spectacular (postmodern) symbol of freedom, where the rebel image of the bike and the brand is consumed by (predominantly mainstream) consumers, thus highlighting the co-construction of the consumer's brand experience. Recognizing this co-construction of brand experience enables brand managers and marketers an opportunity to manage and market brands from the fundamental level of what a particular brand means to consumers.

Suggested Citation

  • Schembri, Sharon, 2009. "Reframing brand experience: The experiential meaning of Harley-Davidson," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 62(12), pages 1299-1310, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jbrese:v:62:y:2009:i:12:p:1299-1310
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    Cited by:

    1. John Lipinski & Michael F. Walsh & Laura M. Crothers, 2011. "Brand communities: influencing organisations' identities and their perception of the business environment," International Journal of Business Environment, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 4(4), pages 363-377.
    2. Kornum, Niels & Gyrd-Jones, Richard & Al Zagir, Nadia & Brandis, Kristine Anthoni, 2017. "Interplay between intended brand identity and identities in a Nike related brand community: Co-existing synergies and tensions in a nested system," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 70(C), pages 432-440.
    3. repec:eee:jbrese:v:81:y:2017:i:c:p:31-39 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. von Wallpach, Sylvia & Kreuzer, Maria, 2013. "Multi-sensory sculpting (MSS): Eliciting embodied brand knowledge via multi-sensory metaphors," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1325-1331.
    5. Higgins, Leighanne & Hamilton, Kathy, 2016. "Mini-miracles: Transformations of self from consumption of the Lourdes pilgrimage," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 25-32.
    6. Walther, Luciana & Schouten, John W., 2016. "Next stop, Pleasure Town: Identity transformation and women's erotic consumption," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 69(1), pages 273-283.
    7. Merrilees, Bill & Miller, Dale, 2010. "Brand morphing across Wal-Mart customer segments," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(11), pages 1129-1134, November.
    8. repec:eee:joreco:v:24:y:2015:i:c:p:60-69 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. Schembri, Sharon & Boyle, Maree V., 2013. "Visual ethnography: Achieving rigorous and authentic interpretations," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 66(9), pages 1251-1254.
    10. Mollen, Anne & Wilson, Hugh, 2010. "Engagement, telepresence and interactivity in online consumer experience: Reconciling scholastic and managerial perspectives," Journal of Business Research, Elsevier, vol. 63(9-10), pages 919-925, September.

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