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Being Present: Toward a Better Understanding of Customer Experiences

Qualitative Consumer Research

ISBN: 978-1-78714-492-7, eISBN: 978-1-78714-491-0

ISSN: 1548-6435

Publication date: 1 August 2017



Consumers are increasingly present in multiple spaces. For instance, many people choose to browse their smartphones for product reviews, while shopping at the traditional brick-and-mortar store. How is their presence affected in such scenarios? Can they be fully present in the store? How is their overall consumption experience impacted? This chapter addresses such questions and explores the nature and role of presence, which is defined as the “feeling of ‘being there’ in the present, the here and now of the physical or a virtual world” (Waterworth & Waterworth, 2006, p. 82).


Drawing on findings from different literatures (e.g., marketing, communications), a conceptual approach is used to identify the underlying components of presence and to explore how this construct relates to customer experience.


Preliminary assertions suggest that presence has a spatial structure. It is concerned with two distinctions. First, presence may vary depending on the level of physicality or virtuality. Second, presence may change based on whether someone is perceiving stimuli in the external environment (what is happening around us in the physical or virtual space) or is lost (i.e., absent) in the internal world of dreams, thoughts, and imaginations.

Research implications

From a theoretical perspective, this research introduces the presence construct from communications to the marketing literature. Studying consumption experiences through the lens of presence contributes to our understanding of how they are affected by simultaneous activities of customers in physical and virtual spaces.

Practical implications

From a managerial perspective, marketers are encouraged to develop new strategies that account for customers’ presence in various spaces, in order to gain their attention.



Braun, J. (2017), "Being Present: Toward a Better Understanding of Customer Experiences", Qualitative Consumer Research (Review of Marketing Research, Vol. 14), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 207-225.



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