Turning a commodity into an experience: the “sweetest spot” in the coffee shop


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Commodities are products with low economic value, but when related to experience, they can turn into profitable businesses. In the present work, the authors seek to understand consumer behavior in the coffee industry, guided by the following research question: How can customer experience affect price perception? To answer this question, the researchers conducted an analysis using the four realms of experience from Pine and Gilmore (1999, 2011) – entertainment, education, esthetics, and escapist – and how they behave according to different kinds of customer experience, as well as their relation to price perception. To understand this, the authors conducted qualitative research with 40 consumers in two important coffee companies: Starbucks and Costa Coffee. The coffee shops analyzed are located in the city of Marbella, Spain. The results of this research show that customers are aware of the price discrepancy, but still frequenting coffee shops for different experiences according to their interests. This work is groundbreaking because of the analysis of the four realms of experience and its correlation with the price perception. The authors also introduced to the customer experience field the analysis of the four realms in the coffee shop industry. Finally, from the research results, the authors suggest various managerial practices that can improve customer experience and the perception of prices.

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    • Figure 1. The four realms of experience
    • Table 1. Interviewees’ profile
    • Table 2. General questions results
    • Table 3. The four realms of experience and stimulation themes