The role of ambiances and aesthetics on millennials’ museum visiting behavior

Hyowon Hyun (Department of Marketing, Hanyang University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea)
Jungkun Park (Hanyang University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea)
Tianbao Ren (Department of Marketing, Hanyang University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea)
Hyunjin Kim (Hanyang University, Seoul, The Republic of Korea)

Arts and the Market

ISSN: 2056-4945

Publication date: 1 October 2018



The purpose of this paper is to establish a framework for millennials’ museum visiting behaviour and to explore the moderating effects of aesthetics and ambience for visiting art museums. This study uses the Stimulus–Organism–Response (S–O–R) model (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974) in order to confirm the relationship among variables.


The data were collected using online surveys from millennial art museum visitors who had visited a museum within three months. In all, 287 responses were collected. Structural equation modelling was used to analyse the model.


Korean millennial visitors pursue hedonic value rather than utilitarian value when they visit art museums. It turns out that hedonic value accelerates visitor satisfaction and promotes visitor loyalty more than utilitarian value in the art museum setting. Both ambiance and aesthetics play stimulating roles in the art museum context and moderate the relationships among visitor-perceived value, satisfaction and loyalty. Utilitarian values are identified as unimportant elements for young Korean museumgoers.

Practical implications

Ambiance and aesthetic factors play important roles in promoting art museum visits. An art museum may elevate its atmospheric factors by emphasising the visit’s fun value (i.e. hedonic value) for millennials.


This study expands on previous studies concerning conceptualization of multidimensional constructs of millennials’ value for experience of arts museums in terms of aesthetics and ambiance. The results also confirm the value of the S–O–R framework in an art museum context.



Hyun, H., Park, J., Ren, T. and Kim, H. (2018), "The role of ambiances and aesthetics on millennials’ museum visiting behavior", Arts and the Market, Vol. 8 No. 2, pp. 152-167.

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited


As living standards increase, consumers tend to seek novelty and diversity in their leisure experiences (Minkiewicz et al., 2014). Traditionally, art museums have focused on their collections, but have showed little to no interest in understanding the needs and wants of their visitors (Harrison and Shaw, 2004). In an age of increasing competition in leisure markets and a change in lifestyles (Ober et al., 2014), art museums must meet the needs of visitors if they hope to appeal to the leisure market. All types of museums, such as national science museums, historical museums and art galleries must provide a space to improve quality of life through a heightened museum going experience. Recently, the most important factor for attracting visitors to art museums is the visitor experience. Art museum management is beginning to make a great effort to appreciate the importance of the museum experience through advanced services to visitors (Hume, 2015). Lord (2007) indicated that art museum visits are transformative experiences that help visitors to develop new attitudes, interests, appreciation or values.

The main target of this study is young consumers, namely, millenials. Millennials are currently a large population between 17 and 37 years old, and their purchasing power makes them attractive targets for the museum management sector. Millennials enjoy leisure activities and visit more museums as compared to other generations and are, likewise, willing to explore new artistic experiences (Fang, 2017). Enhanced experiences can create greater consumer value. Babin et al. (1994) suggested the two experiential value dimensions that this study focused on: hedonic and utilitarian. Hedonic value is related to the emotional experience (Jackson et al., 2011) and utilitarian value is related to the practical experience, such as educational programs. Carpenter (2008) noted important relationships between values and outcome variables including satisfaction and loyalty. Based on previous studies, this study adopted the value–satisfaction–loyalty (V–S–L) construct. With aesthetic and ambiance attributes as the two most important moderating environmental factors, Hicks (2015) indicated that ambience was an important element for the younger visitor’s experience in a museum environment. The ambient elements such as lighting, space, temperature and noise were highly important to the art museum experience (Packer, 2008). Kotler and Kotler (2000) described this range of art museum experiences to include aesthetics (i.e. visual and sensory), recreation, sociability, education and celebrations.

The aim of the study is to establish a framework for millennials’ museum visiting behaviour and to explore the moderating effects of aesthetics and ambience when visiting art museums. The present study uses the Stimulus–Organism–Response (S–O–R) model (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974) as our theoretical background, in order to confirm the relationship among variables of stimuli, organism and response.


Millennials are becoming the largest market consumers (Sandoval, 2015). The millennial generation, also known as Generation Y, was born between 1980 and 2000 (Lee and Kotler, 2016) and are demanding consumers who spend on a large variety of items and request personalised and customised goods and services (Howe and Strauss, 2003; Paul, 2001; Sweeney, 2006). The millennials’ consumption habits tend to be more hedonic and based on relaxation (Sandoval, 2015). As a generational group, millennials have a higher level of education than the previous generation and pursue more expressive, creative, liberal, collaborative and interactive goods and services (Fang, 2017). The millennial generation is considered to be very socially responsible and environmentally aware (Smith, 2012), with a greater level of adaptability and enjoyment of advanced technologies (Eastman et al., 2013). Dirsehan and Yalçin (2011) insisted that museums exist both to offer enjoyment and to provide various experiences, which makes them uniquely suited to the millennials. In other words, museums satisfy visitors’ spiritual needs (e.g. high technological experience, relaxation, culture experience) and utilitarian needs (e.g. search information, education, purchase). Museums have started utilising new communication channels, such as social media, to draw in more visitors (Kidd, 2014) while trying to satisfy millennial visitors’ tastes. This study explores the effects of experiential value (i.e. hedonic and utilitarian) for millennial visitor satisfaction and loyalty to the museum. In addition, the present study investigates the moderating effects of aesthetics and ambiance on the relation between experiential value and satisfaction/loyalty. This study contributes to museum research by considering millennials’ museum consumption behaviour.

Theoretical background

S–O–R model

Mehrabian and Russell’s (1974) model, S–O–R theory, posits that external environmental stimuli (S) can elicit emotional responses (R) in an individual (O). The S–O–R model explains how an enterprise creates and delivers value to customers (Teece, 2010) and in return captures the value by using creative revenue streams and learning compounding strategies (Shafer et al., 2005). This theory was derived from environmental psychology, asserting that sensory input from the environment acts as stimuli by combining with personality factors to trigger an emotional reaction, subsequently resulting in behavioural outcomes as responses (Forrest, 2013). The S–O–R model has been applied to the hotel industry (Jani and Han, 2014), shopping centre ambience analysis (Markovic et al., 2014), online shopping (Won et al., 2009) and store layout (Mummalaneni, 2005). Cachero and Vázquez (2017) used the S–O–R model to investigate the interplay of consumer’s value experiences and their satisfaction responses.

In art museum settings, atmospheric cues and atmospheric stimuli consist of a variety of elements, such as light, layout or scent (Mummalaneni, 2005). In an external environmental study, Lee and Johnson (2010) claimed that ambiance and aesthetics, environment stimuli, significantly influence consumers’ moods and purchase intention. Moreover, ambience, an important aspect of interior design, can be widely applied to stimuli research (Markovic et al., 2014). Organism is defined as an internal process connecting external stimuli and consumer response (Chang et al., 2011). The process consists of how consumers evaluate their experiences of a museum (Liao, To, Wong et al., 2016). Experiential marketing plays a key role for a museum (Ober et al., 2014). Lee and Yun’s (2015) study utilised hedonic and utilitarian variables as the consumer’s experience value expressing consumers’ emotion in the S–O–R model. Thus, this study has built on organisms as experience value for hedonic and utilitarian value. Response is the visitors’ reaction to their external environment. Zhu et al. (2014) focused on satisfaction and loyalty as the consumer’s response to social environment stimuli. Therefore, satisfaction and loyalty were chosen as the visitor’s possible response to museums in this study. Previous studies have occasionally used PAD model dimensions in the museum context (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974; Porat et al., 2007). Pleasure (P) means that the individual feels good, happy or satisfied. Arousal (A) refers to the degree of sensory stimulation, while Dominance (D) refers to the degree a person is controlled by the environment (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974). The PAD framework is often used in emotional experience research (Huang, Ali and Liao, 2017). Yeh et al. (2017) emphasised that the PAD model differentiates emotions, while the S–O–R framework explains how emotions are affected by stimuli and how emotions affect behaviours in a sequential chain. The PAD is in line with the S–O–R model; however, Eroglu et al. (2001) recommended the S–O–R for a comprehensive set of emotional responses.

Review of literature

Museum visitors

Traditional art museums have served as a medium for preserving history, arts and culture to support perennial learning and to bridge gaps between past and future generations by focusing on the treatment of their collections and artworks (Mylonakis and Kendristakis, 2006), and may have had little interest in catering to the needs of their visitors (Harrison and Shaw, 2004). Around the 1980s, many museum marketers changed their strategy, concluding that museumgoers are a critical factor in successful museum management (McLean, 1994). Looking at museums from the perspective of visitors, some researchers and museum managers maintain that museum administrators must discover how to develop a new stream of museum visitors (McLean, 1994; Boorsma, 2006). Several researchers have investigated reasons why people visit museums and identified attributes of motivations to visit (Hood, 1989; Doering, 1999; Rentschler and Gilmore, 2002). Motivations for visiting museum vary. According to Hood’s (1989) research, there are six characteristics that motivate people to visit museums: social interaction, experiencing something of value, feeling comfortable, fresh experiences, learning opportunities and active participation. However, Moussouri (1997) suggested a different set of six elements that explain why people visit museums: education, entertainment, social event, life-cycle place and practical issues. As museums become more visitor-oriented, they need to shift their strategies to focus more on visitor experiences (Kelly, 2004).

Consumers are emotional and make an effort to meet their higher level needs in every aspect of their lives (Robinette et al., 2002). Consumers tend to seek novelty and diversity in leisure experiences and visiting museums is considered a highly enjoyable leisure activity (Minkiewicz et al., 2014). Museum visitors’ expectations for their leisure time are dominated by experiential motivations, such as learning and obtaining new experiences (Hood and Seedsman, 2004). Experiential marketing research indicates two variables-hedonic and utilitarian to assess consumer satisfaction in service sectors (Enrique Bigné et al., 2008; Petkus, 2004). Previous research emphasised two dimensions of experiential value: hedonic and utilitarian (Babin et al., 1994). Hedonic value is related to the emotional experience (Jackson et al., 2011), while utilitarian value is related to the practical experience. Hedonic value reflects visitors’ emotional responses, such as enjoyment and playfulness; it is made up of pleasure and curiosity (Scarpi et al., 2014). In the museum context, the hedonic visitor desires to obtain pleasure from a museum-visit experience. The utilitarian value is defined as an overall evaluation of the functional benefits of the museum-visit (Overby and Lee, 2006). Museum visitors seek a comprehensive experience where leisure, culture, education and social interaction can be included in one spot (De Rojas and Camarero, 2006). Art museums that attract utilitarian visitors can motivate them to learn, causing utilitarian visitors to find such efforts made by the museum to be satisfying (Packer and Ballantyne, 2002). To sum up, although various authors assert various motivations for visiting museums, there is a consensus that people visit art museums because of both functional reasons (e.g. utilitarian value), such as learning and social interaction and nonfunctional reasons (e.g. hedonic value) such as relaxation and enjoyment.

Satisfaction and loyalty

In general, customer satisfaction is the difference between expectations and perceived outcomes of the service delivery (Oliver, 1980). Although various definitions of customer satisfaction exist, researchers agree that customer satisfaction is an evaluation process about consumption. In the arts context, customer satisfaction depends on a customer’s overall assessment of events or performances, and it is the outcome of a comparison of perceptions of the experience against expectations (Oliver, 1980). An enjoyable experience helps strengthen feelings of freedom and control that reinforce social interaction, making customers more inclined to chat about the arts experience (Lam and So, 2013). Thus, art museum managers are interested in how factors such as satisfaction influence post-satisfaction behaviours such as intentions to recommend to others and to visit (Harrison and Shaw, 2001). Art museum satisfaction relies on the visitor experience because an enjoyable experience leading to positive emotions, leads to consumer satisfaction (Phillips and Baumgartner, 2002). Consumer satisfaction plays an important role in the service-sector context, due to its experiential nature (Wirtz et al., 2000). Although previous studies have shown that experiential factors affect the satisfaction of museum visitors, there is a lack of detailed study of experience values (De Rojas and Camarero, 2008). This study explores the impact of two dimensions of experience value (e.g. utilitarian value, hedonic value) on visitor satisfaction, as experiential value is highly related to consumer loyalty.

Loyalty has many definitions and is measured in various ways. In marketing literature, repurchase and recommendation intentions usually indicate loyalty. Many studies have highlighted the positive relationship between consumer satisfaction and consumer loyalty intentions across various services industries (Hume and Mort, 2010; Kaura, 2013). Loyalty is usually measured as the number of times a product is bought or a destination is visited (McKercher et al., 2012). Therefore, destination/place could be regarded as a kind of product, and people could revisit or recommend these destinations to others when they are satisfied (Yoon and Uysal, 2005). Thus, museum loyalty can be understood as a type of destination loyalty, as employed in the tourism and leisure domain:


Millennial visitor’s perceived utilitarian value positively influences customer satisfaction of the art museum.


Millennial visitor’s hedonic value positively influences customer satisfaction of the art museum.


Millennial visitor’s satisfaction positively influences loyalty towards the art museum.

Moderating effect of ambiance

Guided by the S–O–R theory, stimuli are external to the person, consisting of environmental factors (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974). In this study, the stimuli are a museum’s environmental characteristics as they affect visitors’ responses. This study examines the moderating effects of environmental factors (e.g. ambient and aesthetics) on the value and satisfaction of visitors. In the museum setting, the stimuli include ambience and aesthetics; organism includes the experience value affecting visitors’ behavioural response: satisfaction and loyalty in the service context. Museum ambience is an environment designed to generate a stimulus that will affect the visitors’ behaviour in terms of their perceptions and emotions. Ambiance factors are non-visual background conditions in the environment, including elements such as temperature, lighting, music, and scent (Wineman, 1982; Yalch and Spangenberg, 1990). Ambiance factors have also been found to influence customer behaviour. According to Morrison et al. (2011), in-store music and aroma influence shopper behaviour and satisfaction. Ambient lighting influences physiological reactions in terms of melatonin production, core-body temperature, heart rate, and cortisol production, all of which are correlated with alertness levels (Lockley et al., 2006). These ambient conditions are crucial factors for museum visitors. The ambient conditions (lighting, space, temperature, and noise) are very important to the museum experience (Packer, 2008). Ambience plays a key role as a mediation factor for museum visitors. Mediation factors have the potential to make museums more attractive and to serve as intrinsic motivation for the visit—for loyal visitors and newcomers alike (Adams et al., 2004). In this study, the moderating effect of museum ambience was measured by dividing low and high ambience perceiving groups and the following hypotheses are proposed:


The relationship between utilitarian value and satisfaction is mediated by ambiance.


The relationship between hedonic value and satisfaction is mediated by ambiance.


The relationship between satisfaction and loyalty is mediated by ambiance.

Moderating effect of aesthetics

Consumers make brand choices based on goods’ aesthetic value and distinctiveness of visual design (Dumaine, 1991; Schmitt and Simonson, 1997). According to research, design elements in the environment influence individuals’ evaluations of objects and service-setting design affected consumer perceptions and attitudes about that service (Morrow and McElroy, 1981; McElroy et al., 1990). In a museum context, aesthetic elements are important environmental factors in the visiting experience. Physical experiences and aesthetic sensations inform learning and enhance pleasure (Bell, 2017). Aesthetic elements include extrinsic factors such as architecture, colour, style, and aesthetic responses involving affective reactions to the object (Veryzer, 1993; Cupchik, 1995). Holbrook and Zirlin (1985) defined aesthetic response as a deeply felt experience that is enjoyed purely for its own sake. In this research, the aesthetic factor was divided into low and high perceiving groups to estimate moderating effects (Figure 1).


The relationship between utilitarian value and satisfaction is mediated by aesthetics.


The relationship between hedonic value and satisfaction is mediated by aesthetics.


The relationship between satisfaction and loyalty is mediated by aesthetics.


Scale development

Initial scale items were adopted from previous research. To refine these items, measurement items were subsequently adjusted to fit the museum settings over three repetitions of pilot tests. English scales were translated into Korean and translated back to confirm validity by three multilingual translators and two faculty members. Nine-item scales were used to measure hedonic value, adopted by Voss et al. (2003); scale reliability was represented with 0.951. Utilitarian value was measured using seven-item scales adapted from Voss et al. (2003) and provided a reliability of 0.895. Ambiance incident was judged by a seven-item scale (Raajpoot et al., 2010), and yielded a reliability of 0.901. The aesthetic indicator utilised a six-item scale (Mathwick et al., 2010) representing a reliability of 0.868. As for customer satisfaction, based on the study by Cronin et al. (2000), a four-item scale was used, providing a reliability of 0.803, and loyalty was measured by a seven-item scale (Maxham and Netemeyer, 2002); scale reliability was 0.914. All scale items of this study are assessed using seven-point Likert scales (1= strongly disagree, 7= strongly agree). (see Table I). A screening question (i.e. Have you visited the museum in the last six months?) begins the survey, to ensure that all of the respondents had actually visited a museum.

Sample characteristics and data collection

The average respondents’ age was 28.7, ranging from 17 to 40. The majority of the respondents were quite young, with 61.8 per cent below 30, followed by the ages between 30 and 39 years at 15.0 per cent. The sample was 38.2 per cent male, 46.3 per cent female and 15.4 per cent no response. Undergraduate college degrees were held by 43.5 per cent and 40.2 per cent had graduate-level college education. With regards to the frequency of visiting the museum within the last six months, 43.9 per cent of respondents replied that they had visited less than twice; 28.5 per cent indicated 2-3 times; 11.8 per cent described more than 4 times; and 15.9 per cent did not answer. Details of the sample characteristics are displayed in Table II.

This study focused on Korean museums and the data were collected based on experience at Korean museums. Respondents were surveyed in Seoul, Korea, because the target subjects were restricted to the top ten museums with the most visitors. Three museums with the highest visitor numbers were selected for this study. A total of 288 responses were gathered within three months. After deleting corrupted data, the sample number was 246.

Analysis and results

Confirmatory factor analysis

The measurement model possessed four latent variables, except for moderating variables. The initial measurement items were subject to confirmatory factor analysis with maximum likelihood estimation. The results represented that the model had an inadequate level fit of the data (χ2 =1,222.647, df=292, p<0.001, GFI=0.73, AGFI=0.67, TLI=0.84, CFI=0.86, RMSEA=0.11). For this reason, model modification procedure was conducted following Min and Mentzer (2004)’s suggestion. After model modification, with the remaining 16 indicators, the result of the CFA had better fit of the data (χ2=205.244, df=96, p<0.001, GFI=0.91, AGFI=0.87, TLI=0.97, CFI=0.97, RMSEA=0.07) than the first CFA model (χ2=2.05, p<0.001). Findings from the second CFA model are provided in Table III. AVE ranged from 0.516 to 0.738, representing evidence of convergent validity. The extracted portions of variance from each construct were larger than the squared coefficient, showing that discriminant validity of the constructs was evident (Fornell and Larcker, 1981). Also, all the composite reliability surpassed the 0.60 criterion, and the internal validity of constructs was at an acceptable level (Bagozzi and Yi, 1989).

Structural equation modelling (SEM)

Based on the result of CFA, SEM was examined. The first proposed model was not satisfactory (χ2=296.489, df=100, p<0.001, GFI=0.87, AGFI=0.82, TLI=0.94, CFI=0.95, RMSEA=0.09). To improve goodness of fit of the overall proposed model, a modification process was conducted based on the modification index. After the revision process, the revised structural model level (χ2=214.677, df=97, p<0.001, GFI=0.91, AGFI=0.87, TLI=0.96, CFI=0.97, RMSEA=0.07) provided a more satisfactory fit model (χ2=81.812,=3, p<0.001) as shown in Table IV. In the structural model, three paths were tested. Utilitarian and hedonic values were directly connected to customer satisfaction (H1 and H2), and satisfaction was linked to loyalty (H3). The results supported the hypothesis that hedonic value significantly affects satisfaction (χ2=0.776, p<0.000), and satisfaction significantly affects loyalty (χ2=0.136, p<0.05). However, findings indicated that utilitarian value on satisfaction was insignificant (χ2=0.043, p>0.05). Thus, H2 and H3 were supported, but not H1.

The moderating effects of ambiance and aesthetics on the relationships among four variables, H4a, H4b, H4c, H5a, H5b and H5c were supposed to be tested, but H4a and H5a were not tested because the main effect of utilitarian value on satisfaction (H1) was insignificant. Using standard-scale development procedures, Raajpoot et al. (2010) developed quality scales development of museum ambience, and defined museum ambience as the overall feeling about the visit. For aesthetic appreciation, Mathwick et al.’s (2010) scales (e.g. Centrality of Visual Aesthetics) were used, including aesthetic acumen and visual aesthetic responsiveness items. This study modifies Mathwick et al.’s (2010) items, applying them to moderate analysis. In case of the moderating effect of ambiance, the sample was divided into two groups using a mean split (Parsa et al., 2012). The two groups contained customers seeking lower ambiance value in museums (low ambiance, n=119) and respondents who think museum ambiance is an important characteristic (high ambiance, n=127). The summarised results are provided in Table V. The χ2 difference was tested for both restricted and default models providing significantly different results (χ2=29.669, df =3, p<0.001) with support of H4b and H4c. The level of ambiance provided a positive influence on satisfaction for both groups, and it had a higher level of significance on satisfaction for the high ambiance group. However, when it comes to satisfaction on loyalty, it had a significant influence only for the high ambiance group. ANOVA testing found whether satisfaction and loyalty were different between the two groups. The results show that there is no significant difference in the satisfaction mean (Mlow ambiance =4.65, Mhigh ambiance=4.70, F=0.04, p>0.05). In contrast, the loyalty between the two groups were significantly different (Mlow ambiance =4.35, Mhigh ambiance =5.37, F=86.07, p<0.001). Likewise, H5b and H5c were also supported (χ2=11.142, df =3, p<0.001), and the results are summarised in Table V as well.

The same was true with ambience; aesthetics are divided into high and low perceiving visitor groups to observe the difference. In the case of the relationship between hedonic value and satisfaction, aesthetics had a positive influence only for the high aesthetic levels. In addition, in the relationships between satisfaction and loyalty, the impact of ambiance on loyalty across high and low groups was also significantly different. The significance was only found when it comes to people who sought aesthetic values in museums, supporting H5c. ANOVA was conducted to test differences between satisfaction and loyalty levels for two groups. The results provided that there is no significant difference in the satisfaction mean (Mlow aesthetic =4.33, Mhigh aesthetic =4.90, F=9.22, p<0.01). In contrast, the loyalty between the two groups was significantly different (Mlow aesthetic =2.80, Mhigh aesthetic =5.53, F=404.89, p<0.001).

Discussions and implications

Theoretical implications

When Korean millennials make their consumption decisions, even considering a lack of leisure time and discretionary leisure budget, they consider hedonic value as important (Chang et al., 2004). Korean and most Asian millennials consider experiential value more seriously than previous generations. This indicates that most millennials tend to find value in experiences and they prefer to spend money on adventure and cultural experiences than on goods. The results of this study reflect current market trends of millennials’ consumption patterns.

The study examined the relationships among Korean millennial visitors’ multidimensional experiential value, satisfaction and loyalty in visiting museums. Additionally, this research investigated the moderating role of environmental factors (i.e. ambiences, aesthetics) on the relationships between value and satisfaction. Utilising the S–O–R model, this study provides further support for the impact of organism factors (i.e. hedonic value, utilitarian value) on visitor satisfaction when visiting art museums. Also, the moderating role of stimuli (i.e. aesthetics) for visiting museums in the relationship between hedonic value and their response was supported. These findings provide guidelines for museum managers and academic researchers by identifying possible stimuli (i.e. aesthetics and ambience) to promote museum visits and to secure positive responses from millennials in an art museum context.

The study conducted empirical research on millennial visitor satisfaction and loyalty in the art museum settings. At first, hedonic value was the only significant determinant on satisfaction with museum visits, affecting loyalty. Specifically, the results showed that there is a significant relationship among hedonic value, satisfaction and loyalty. This is consistent with previous studies that suggest that hedonic value is the primary determinant of satisfaction of the museum experience (Zhou and Urhahne, 2017). In contrast, utilitarian value was not found to be an effective stimulus towards overall satisfaction. In museum settings, experiential appeals did not impact utilitarian goal-oriented museum visitors, while hedonic goal-oriented visitors were interested in all experience types. Second, similar to previous studies, the results confirmed a moderating effect of aesthetics and ambiance on stimulating visits to art museums (Ryu and Jang, 2007). Utilitarian value was not statistically significant in this study; this may indicate utilitarian value did not impact loyalty behaviour because a one-time learning experience is sufficient for visitors’ goals. The outcomes indicated that the relationship between hedonic value and satisfaction is significant, and it was a meaningful indicator when people believed ambiances may not be an important element among the relationships. Also, the relationship between satisfaction and loyalty was insignificant because visitors did not count ambient elements as important factors; they were just interested in appreciating the original artifacts. The museum’s ambiance played an important role in the relationship. Likewise, the results clarified the role of aesthetics in museum settings.

Practical implications

The millennial generation is now the largest consumer market (Sandoval, 2015). Millennial consumers are very active in consuming leisure activities; visiting museums and art galleries has become a very popular leisure activity. In response to these market trends, museums strive to develop experiential value-creating activities that visitors can participate in addition to their ordinary activities, such as exhibitions. To sum up the results of this study, museum-visiting millennial behaviours have confirmed that museum ambiance and aesthetics are the most important stimuli beyond the museum itself.

The results of this study provide practical implications. First, the elements of the ambiances and aesthetics factors play an important role in enhancing museum visits. Second, millennial museum visitors are enthusiastic about hedonic activities. Museums need to market themselves through various experiential marketing activities. The museum manager will have to develop various activities tailoring aesthetics and ambiance to the millennial’s hedonism-seeking behaviour. Activities using technologies, such as virtual reality or augmented reality, will attract a greater influx of millennials to the museum. Third, this study identified the influential determinants for the millennial consumers’ art experiences. Art marketing managers will need to develop a more in-depth study of the quality of the millennial consumers and develop exciting and challenging events that meet their demand and trend-seeking tastes. In addition, Korean visitors perceive the image of the museum as a space for cultural experience (Chosun Ilbo, 2012) and want to share what they have experienced in museums through the SNS (e.g. social media).

Limitations and future research

This study has some limitations despite presenting several meaningful conclusions and implications. The limitations of this study and suggestions for further research are as follows: first, Koreans, the subjects of this study, did not perceive the utilitarian value as a precedent factor for satisfaction. For a more detailed research, one could investigate other values, such as epistemic, functional, economic, social, etc. Also, this study could bear different outcomes by targeting other countries or cultures, such as France, where the museum management system is well developed. Second, data from this study were collected from visitors to actual museums, resulting in a large per cent of respondents under 30, due to the consumption habit of millennials. Millennials tend to enjoy the consumption process more and use more time for relaxation (Sandoval, 2015). For Korean museums, a majority of visitors are millennials. Future research would require a wider range of ages. Third, detailed research of mediating variables, other than ambiance and aesthetics, is needed.


Conceptual model

Figure 1

Conceptual model

Summary of measurement scales

Construct References Measurement scales α
Utilitarian Voss et al. (2003) Visiting museum is functional to mea
Visiting museum is necessary to mea
Visiting museum is practical to me
Visiting museum is problem solving to mea
Visiting museum is useful to me
Visiting museum is sensible to me
Visiting museum is efficient to me
Hedonic Voss et al. (2003) Visiting museum is fun
Visiting museum is excitinga
Visiting museum is delightful
Visiting museum is thrilling
Visiting museum is practical to mea
Visiting museum is pleasanta
Visiting museum is amusing
Visiting museum is sensuousa
Visiting museum is funnya
Satisfaction Cronin et al. (2000) When having experience from the museum, I feel angry, enraged or annoyed (reversed)
I continue to visit this museum because other museums aren’t as good
I think I did wrong experience when I visited the museum (reversed)
My choice to visit the museum was a wise one
Loyalty Lichtenstein et al. (2004)
Maxham and Netemeyer (2002)
Krishnamurthy and Sivaraman (2002)
I will say positive things about museum to other people.
I will recommend museum to someone who seeks my advicea
I will consider museum others’ first choice to visit museum
I would like to visit this museuma
I would patronise this museum.
I will visit the museum in further
I will recommend this museum to friends, neighbours and relativesa
Ambiance Raajpoot et al. (2010) Museum is cheerful
Museum is stimulating.
Museum is lively
It is possible for museum visitors to experience very pleasing activities
Museum gives me a sense of excitement
Museum gives me a sense of adventure
Museum gives novel experiences
Aesthetic Bloch et al. (2003)
Mathwick et al. (2010)
I would like to visit museum that has superior designs makes me feel good about myself
I enjoy seeing displays of museums that have superior designs
A museum design is a source of pleasure for me
Beautiful museum designs make our world a better place to live
I see things in a museum design that other people tend to pass over
I have the ability to imagine how a product will fill in with designs of other things in a museum.

Notes: All measurement scales were measured by a seven-point Likert scale (1= strongly disagree, 7= strongly agree). aThese were excluded from the data analysis

Sample characteristics

Variable Group Frequency Per cent
Age <20 years of age 2 0.8
20–29 152 61.8
30–39 37 15.0
>40 years of age 17 6.9
No answer 38 15.4
Gender Male 94 38.2
Female 114 46.3
No answer 38 15.4
Education Under college degree 107 43.5
Graduate-level degree 99 40.2
No answer 40 16.3
Visit times/six month Less than twice 108 43.9
2~3 times 70 28.5
More than four times 29 11.8
No answer 39 15.9

Note: n=246

Correlations, composite reliability, AVE and squared correlations

Constructs Hedonic Utilitarian Satisfaction Loyalty
Hedonic 1.000
Utilitarian 0.374*** (0.140) 1.000
Satisfaction 0.710*** (0.504) 0.356*** (0.127) 1.000
Loyalty 0.151* (0.023) −0.170** (0.029) 0.131* (0.017) 1.000
Mean 5.222 4.708 4.849 4.680
Composite reliability 0.918 0.809 0.853 0.848
AVE 0.738 0.516 0.679 0.585

Notes: Squared correlations are in the parentheses. *p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001

Results of the structural equation modelling

Hypothesis Paths Coefficients t-value
H1 Utilitarian → Satisfaction 0.043 0.439
H2 Hedonic → Satisfaction 0.776 10.822 ***
H3 Satisfaction → Loyalty 0.136 1.992*

Notes: χ2=214.677, df =97, p<0.001, GFI=0.91, AGFI=0.87, TLI=0.96, CFI=0.97, RMSEA=0.07.*p<0.05; **p<0.01; ***p<0.001

Moderating effects of ambiance and aesthetic

Low ambiance (n=119) High ambiance (n=127) Low aesthetic (n=114) High aesthetic (n=132)
Paths B t-value B t-value B t-value B t-value
Hedonic → Satisfaction 0.506 5.019*** 0.861 9.821*** 0.425 1.832 0.450 6.399***
Satisfaction → Loyalty 0.217 0.938 0.418 2.732* 0.017 0.132 1.063 3.741***

Notes: B is coefficient. *p<0.05; ***p<0.001


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Further reading

Bae, Y.H., Hough, M., Jun, J.W. and Ju, I. (2018), “Cultural differences among young adult consumers in Hong Kong, Japan, and Korea”, Journal of Global Marketing, Vol. 10 No. 6, pp. 1-13.

Cunnell, D. and Prentice, R. (2000), “Tourists’ recollections of quality in museums: a service scape without people?”, Museum Management and Curatorship, Vol. 18 No. 4, pp. 369-390.

Kotler, P. and Armstrong, G. (2010), Principles of Marketing, Pearson education, Englewood Cliffs.

Corresponding author

Jungkun Park can be contacted at: