An embodied approach to consumer experiences: the Hollister brandscape

Lorna Stevens, Pauline Maclaran, Stephen Brown

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This paper uses embodied theory to analyse consumer experience in a retail brandscape, Hollister Co. By taking a holistic, embodied experience approach, our study reveals how consumers interact with such retail environments in corporeal, instinctive, sensual ways.
The primary source of data were 97 subjective personal introspective accounts undertaken with the target age group for the store. These were supplemented with in-depth interviews with consumers, managers, and employees of Hollister.
We offer a conceptualization of consumers’ embodied experience, which we term The Immersive Somascape Experience. This identifies four key touch points that evoke the Hollister store experience - each of which reveal how the body is affected by particular relational and material specificities.
The authors propose an emergent theoretical framework - The Immersive Somascape Experience – that provides a holistic way to analyse how the body leads in emplacing the consumer within a retail brandscape. It depicts four embodied elements: Sense Activation, Corporeal Relationality, Brand Materialities and (Dis)Orientation. Together these may culminate in Consumer Emplacement. Future consideration of embodied experiences across different retail contexts may further develop these insights.
The study reveals the perils and pitfalls of adopting a sensory marketing perspective.
It also offers insights into how the body leads in retail brandscapes, addressing a lack in such approaches in the current retailing literature, and suggesting that embodied, experiential aspects of branding are increasingly pertinent in retailing in light of the continued growth of on-line shopping.
Overall, the study shows how an embodied experience approach challenges the dominance of mind and representation over body and materiality, suggesting that an "intelligible embodiment” approach offers unique insights into consumers’ embodied experiences in retail environments.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-828
Number of pages23
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number4
Early online date8 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 30 Apr 2019


  • embodied approach
  • embodied experience
  • experiential consumption
  • retail brandscapes
  • Merleau-Ponty
  • Sustainability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Marketing


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