Shopping centre managers often use special event entertainment to create emotionally-based experiences for their patrons and, in turn, to entice them to engage
in positive behaviours (e.g. longer duration of stay, more spending, willingness to spread positive word-of-mouth to others and repatronage intention). Special event
entertainment refers to the range of special events convened by a shopping centre on a seasonal, temporary and intermittent basis. Moreover, special event entertainment
is also typically offered free of charge to consumers. Due to these unique characteristics, the consumption experience of special event entertainment is deemed as low (enduring) involvement in nature. Popular examples of special event
entertainment include school holiday events, fashion events, celebrity appearances, and market days.
Despite the common use of special event entertainment by shopping centre managers, little research in experiential consumption literature has paid attention to consumers’ experiences with special event entertainment convened by shopping centres. Consequently, we have scant knowledge of what factors are important in explaining consumers’ experiences with these entertainment events staged by
shopping centres. The acquirement of this knowledge can facilitate shopping centre managers in planning, communicating and executing their marketing strategies of
special events and, in turn, in fostering shoppers’ approach behaviours. For this reason, this research program attempts to fill this knowledge gap relating to
consumers’ experiences with special event entertainment in the existing experiential consumption literature. In particular, this research program seeks to determine: i) the
key factors that are important in explaining shoppers’ experiences with special event entertainment; and ii) the relationships between these key factors in explaining
shoppers’ experiences with special event entertainment.
The first stage of this research program involved a review of experiential consumption literature, especially, in the domains of shopping centre consumption and event consumption. This research stage aimed to identify possible factors that are meaningful in illuminating consumers’ experiences with special event entertainment,
and to develop a preliminary model that illustrates the relationships between these factors. The second stage involved a qualitative study, which was conducted to
explore the relevance of and the relationships between the theoretical factors identified from the first stage. The third and final stage comprised mall intercept
survey with shopping centre patrons during the occurrence of special events at shopping centres. This stage sought to collect real-time, empirical data to test the validity and reliability of the theoretical factors and the conceptual model hypothesised in stage one.
This research program makes several contributions. It provides an extension to experiential consumption literature that has somewhat neglected consumers’
experiences with low (enduring) involvement, seasonal and intermittent special events convened by retail institutions such as shopping centres. It identifies a set of
cognitive, emotional, behavioural and personal factors that are meaningful in explaining shoppers’ experiences with the special events convened by shopping centres. In terms of marketing practice, this study employs a ‘real-time’, as opposed to a retrospective, data collection approach when measuring shoppers’ experiences with the special events convened by shopping centres. Studies on experiential
consumption in the event literature have predominantly relied on a retrospective data collection approach, which often ask attendees or participants to recall and record
their experiences in mail survey. This research program seeks to bridge the gap between theory and practice by developing a theoretical model that aims to help
retail operators (e.g. shopping centre managers) to understand the strategic roles of special events, especially in creating entertaining and enjoyable experiences for patrons and stimulating approach behaviours (e.g. increased duration of stay andspending).