Transcendent customer experience (TCE) indicates that customers derive extreme enjoyment, self transformation, newness of experiences and emotional intensity from shopping and service experiences (Schouten et al, 2007).TCE combines two related yet distinct categories of extraordinary experience, flow and peak(Privatte 1983). Flow experience produces a state of transcendence and a sense of unity with some higher plane of experience (Csikszentmihalyi 1990). Maslow (1962) says that peak experience originates from outside the individual and to transport that person to unexpected emotional heights. Both these experiences share extreme enjoyment and transcendent which have the power to shape customer attitudes and behaviours. Hence the given case study extracted from the “Transcendent customer experience and brand community” illustrates how TCE contributes towards creating a strong brand community and brand loyalty .Hwang and Seo, 2016 identified that being extraordinary or providing a TCE has also become a central interest of experiential marketers. Infact following analysis will discuss how brand managers or marketers implement TCE to build brand community and brand loyalty as part of their marketing strategy and provide recommendations.
Brand community is users of a brand who relate to each other in ways that include perceived similarity (Schouten et al, 2007) .The more the customers of a product get associated with transcendent experience, more they feel special about the brand and more they get emotionally attached with the company. It is the responsibility of marketers and brand managers to focus on delivering transcendent experience which is beyond customer expectations. This will lead towards creating a strong relationship in between the consumer and the brand which will strengthen the brand community. The satisfied customers will ultimately end up spreading their positive impression about the brand with others. In fact the members within the communities are the best ambassadors of the brand as they have the ability to influence the purchase decisions of others through word of mouth. As mentioned in the case study, a “brandfest’can be considered as one of the best platforms to serve the customers with a TCE. Muniz and O’Guinn, (2001) identified that one of the key component of a brand community is the “group experience” Similarly, as mentioned in the case study, the Camp Jeep rally organized as a brandfest will bring along different types of jeep owners together, allowing them to enjoy a group experience. This created a transcendence state by letting the customers to participate in series of adventurous activities which lead the customers to achieve a peak experience. This will surely make a great impact on the customers who have less experience or less commitment towards the brand, which will tempt them to be a part of the brand, meanwhile strengthening the relationship with the existing customers.
Brand managers could make use of the modern technology in order to deliver the customers with a TCE. Creating online platforms where the customers can share their ideas, suggestions and complaints regarding the products and services. This type of environment will made the customers feel valued and it will develop a sense of ownership within the customer towards the brand and the company. This could be considered a best way providing TCE to a brand community with minimum amount of resource usage .Whereas ‘Starbucks’one of the leading coffee companies, launched a forum named as ‘My Starbucks ideas’ (Hossain and Islam, 2015). where it allowed coffee enthusiasts to share and discuss their ideas. Starbucks made sure to highlight, which customer’s idea they have put into action. A TCE provided through extra ordinary online platform will create a sense of appreciation within customers and lead them to a state of transcendence through emotional evoking. Letting customers know that their ideas have been taken into consideration and publicised worldwide, will lift them to a self esteemed level which will strengthen their relationship within the brand community. Therefore it is highly recommended that brand managers and marketers make sure to deliver the promises given to their customers at the point of TCE, without restricting them merely to a piece of advertisement. In that way they can ensure to build a strong and long term committed brand community around their brand through a successful TCE.
Kotler and keller(2006) say that brand loyalty is “The extent of consumer faithfulness, expressed through repeat purchases irrespective of marketing pressures generated by other competing brands “ Hence brand loyalty is when a consumer unwilling to switch from a brand that they are familiar with. Therefore it is recommended for marketing managers to focus on providing the consumers a sense of belonging towards the brand through providing genuine transcendent customer experiences and often meaningful interactions .Introducing loyalty programs that will build up long term customer relationship, sending promotional gifts, providing discounts and rewards for purchases will create extra enjoyment within customers that will ultimately transport them to unexpected emotional heights. The “Prime membership programme” initiated by “Amazon” (Crawford and Sieracki, 2018) is a perfect example of an innovative customer loyalty programme created to enhance the brand loyalty of their consumers. Transcendent experience provided through loyalty programmes will help consumers to differentiate their brands from other competitive brands, and will make them feel special and proud to be a part of the brand. Therefore it will attract new customers and retain the excising customers at the same time.
When consumers get to experience TCE regularly they resist to leave the brand as they are confident that the brand will not fail to mesmerise them with another extraordinary experience. They are ready to pay any amount of money to achieve this state of transcendent. The loyal customers will keep coming back. Retaining customers are great contribution to the company’s bottom line, as it will reduce cost by saving millions of dollars spent on marketing and promotions. The revenue streams obtained from loyal customers are more predictable (Uncles et al,2003). It is one of the key reasons why the brand managers should facilitate creative and self transformative TCEs to strengthen the brand loyalty. The below mentioned figure 1 explains the retaining customers payoff to a company.
Figure 1: Retaining customer payoffs (Mcdonald and Wilson,2016)
Since innovativeness is another precursor to TCE (Pappu and Quester, 2016) the company can utilize the saved money in research and developments to be innovative with their products. consumers believe innovative brands have a higher capability to full fill their needs. Therefore they become more devoted and committed towards such brands. Whereas innovative features of “Apple” products are the transcendent experience that the company provide to their customers. Hence they have a loyal brand community who embrace their products and drive them towards the powerhouse that they are today.
Investments in corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects can also form an essential part in providing TCE to customers of a brand. When a company associates more with valuable CSR projects, products and services offered by such firms will be socially morally and environmentally accepted. When consumers invest in those products or services they will also feel as if they have contributed towards the well being of the society. The motivation and Self satisfaction obtained through contributing to CSR projects will create a transcendent state within customers. In this way marketers could reach to the heart and mind of the potential customers and encourage them to be a part of the brand’s community and contribute towards the social movement.
Hence when brand managers plan how to provide a TCE, their main focus should be the customer. The experience provided by the brand or the product should align with the customer needs and it should be a value addition for the customers. If not, no matter how much money spent on promotions and advertisements, it will not guarantee creating a transcendent experience for the customer. In the present dynamic and competitive market TCE will allow brand managers and marketers to differentiate themselves from their competitors and establish their brand as a cult brand, where customers consider it as an integral part of their lifestyles.
Further to the above analysis it is evident, that transcendent customer experiences plays a major role in promoting and developing an organisation’s brand loyalty and brand community which are vital requirements for the sustainability of an organization. Hence the innovative and creative strategies of providing the required transcendent customer experience will help an organization to stand out of their competitors and will be a value addition to the future. Therefore it is evident for brand managers and marketers that a successful TCE is a key to a strong brand community and brand loyalty.
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