Festival place or place of festival? The role of place identity and attachment in the festival environment

Davis, Andrew and Martin, Andrew (2014) Festival place or place of festival? The role of place identity and attachment in the festival environment. In: 2014 Annual conference of the Academy of Marketing, 2014-07-07 - 2014-07-10.

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This paper addresses place identity and attachment theory in the context of events. Viewing place as a symbolic part of the consumption process, a "Model of Festival Place" is developed. This advances theories that presuppose environment as nothing more than a context for consumption. Selecting the festival as a suitable event context, literature suggests that place identity and place attachment do affect consumer perceptions however, confusion exists regarding exactly how they impact the event experience. This confusion is addressed using an interpretive methodology which aims to understand the lived experience of festival-goers. Unstructured interviews are analysed using thematic analysis to demonstrate that identity and attachment do influence consumer perceptions of the festival environment however, not as first imagined. Environments become either creations of the festival or exist independently of them. The latter allows realistic place-based identities to form, resulting in experiential consonance (i.e. between festival expectations and reality). The former creates more abstract identities resulting in unrealistic expectations and as a result, immediate attachment to specific festival locations is much weaker. Continuity-based recommendations valid across numerous experiential contexts are offered, providing clearer theoretical understanding of the experiential place as well as practical suggestions to improve the consumer's experience.