Service scholars have questioned the usefulness of the concept of tangibility/intangibility as a characteristic of services for two reasons: first, it is ambiguous and does not differentiate between services and goods; and second, because all offerings, despite their characteristics, render service to customers. Consequently, scholars have suggested discarding the concept altogether. The purpose of this paper is to subject the concept to critical evaluation and argue that tangibility/intangibility is useful, because it influences consumers' experiences with offerings. In this paper, the authors argue that it is necessary to re‐conceptualise tangibility/intangibility to overcome the previous critique.
The authors draw upon empirical research from the service marketing and psychology literature in order to advance knowledge on the nature of tangibility/intangibility and its influence on the formation of consumer experiences.
It is proposed that tangibility/intangibility should be investigated from a consumer perspective, rather than an inherent characteristic in offerings. Also, it is shown that the concept is relevant for understanding consumer experience formation at different stages of the purchase process.
The paper provides propositions on the conceptualization of tangibility/intangibility and its relationship with pre‐, ongoing use and post‐purchase consumer experiences. The authors call for caution in dismissing tangibility/intangibility as a concept in the service marketing literature.
Hellén, K. and Gummerus, J. (2013), "Re‐investigating the nature of tangibility/intangibility and its influence on consumer experiences", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 24 No. 2, pp. 130-150. https://doi.org/10.1108/09564231311323935Download as .RIS
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