Conference article

Commercial Experiences from a Customer Perspective

Johan Lilja
Mid Sweden University, TFM, Akademigatan 1, Östersund, Sweden

Maria Eriksson
Mid Sweden University, TFM, Akademigatan 1, Östersund, Sweden

Pernilla Ingelsson
Mid Sweden University, TFM, Akademigatan 1, Östersund, Sweden

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Published in: 10th QMOD Conference. Quality Management and Organiqatinal Development. Our Dreams of Excellence; 18-20 June; 2007 in Helsingborg; Sweden

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 26:57, p.

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Published: 2008-02-15


ISSN: 1650-3686 (print), 1650-3740 (online)


A new type of business offering is currently gaining much attention; a type which in some aspects appears to be distinct from the traditional goods and services; see e.g. Pine and Gilmore (1998; 1999); Voss (2003); Sundbo (2004) or Poulsson and Kale (2004). These offerings are referred to as commercial experiences and Pine and Gilmore argue in their best-selling book The Experience Economy (1999) that “experiences are a fourth economic offering; as distinct from services are from goods; but one that has until now gone largely unrecognized”. (p.9). Commercial experiences are even predicted to be the foundation for future economic growth. The same authors argue that experiences provide higher customer value than services as they engage customers in an inherently memorable way. The statements obviously spark interest; including the interest of quality researchers since the very aim of Total Quality Management (TQM) can be described as increasing the ability of an organization to deliver superior customer value; see eg Lilja (2005).

In 2004; five years after the book The Experience Economy was published; Poulsson and Kale pointed out that there was a remarkably scant understanding of what actually constituted commercial experiences; and that a clear definition was seemingly nowhere to be found. With the only exception being the initial steps made by Poulsson and Kale themselves in 2004; the statement somewhat surprisingly seems to remain true.

Although the business world appears to be more eager then ever to provide commercial experiences to their customers; empirical research in the area can hardly progress in the absence of a better understanding; and a clear definition; of what constitutes a commercial experience.

The purpose of this paper is accordingly to elaborate and clarify the commercial experience concept from a customer perspective. The paper aims more specifically at elaborating; defining; and distinguishing the commercial experience concept.


Experience economy; customer focus; commercial experience


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