Lived experience of a place - A phenomenological exploration of place brand creation by consumers
School of Business | Master's thesis
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AbstractOBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY This study sheds light on co-creative place branding by approaching place brands from the grassroots level of lived experiences upwards. A place brand is seen as negotiation between culture, identity, and image that are simultaneously constructed and consumed in the level of lived experience. This identity-based view brings more dynamism to place branding by highlighting the power of actors and networks in constructing and consuming meanings. Place is understood as an ecosystem where different groups co-creatively build and negotiate place identity and the place's brand. The study shows how experiences in our everyday environment contribute to the experienced sense of place as place identity, and further to a wider place brand experience. METHODOLOGY This study is qualitative, and conducted in Helsinki Airport within a research period of three weeks. A total of 50 interviews were carried out. The interviews followed phenomenological interview methods. In addition, ethnography as a method was utilized in studying the environment. FINDINGS The findings display how sense of place is negotiated in the multidimensional system of a place through its specific experiential dimensions, that in the airport are specified as competence, regulation and control, people, time, space, and experienced agency. These dimensions incorporate enabling and constraining features that guide the formation of experience, and thus of an airport's sense of place. A positive sense of place on a pre-reflective level is established when the environment supports the nature of human being-in-the-world. The conditions of successful place branding deal with optimizing the goals of a place ecosystem to support this nature of being, by understanding a place as a field of affordances that should maximize the possibility to redeem positive experiences. In practice, this study gives implications on how an environment should nurture and support the directed, temporal and inherently embodied nature of being. It also portrays the co-creative nature of the place ecosystem an airport hosts, showing how consumers co-creatively participate in the value creation and determine the actualized value-in-use phenomenologically in the surface of lived experience.
place branding, place co-creation, place identity, sense of place, place ecosystem, phenomenology