Theses Doctoral

Two Essays on the Elevation of Consumption Experiences

Sun, Jennifer Jung Ah

We live in an experience economy where a lot of value creation rests on the consumption of hedonic experiences. Today, such experiences are at the crux of many consumption choices. Hence, setting up an environment to foster positive hedonic consumption experiences is of high relevance and importance to consumers and marketers alike. To contribute to our understanding of how such experiences interact with the marketplace, this doctoral dissertation presents two essays on how consumption experiences can be elevated.

The first essay proposes a novel theory of a particular mindset, the Consummatory Mindset, which contributes to the elevation of consumers’ enjoyment of hedonic experiences. In this essay, taking a grounded theory approach, I phenomenologically describe and conceptualize three fundamental pillars of the consummatory mindset: acceptance of the experience, mental readiness, and a felt permission to enjoy the experience. Subsequently, across three empirical studies, I experimentally manipulate two of these pillars and provide preliminary evidence in support of the mindset, demonstrating that this mindset may lead to an enhanced enjoyment of consumption experiences.

In a second essay that complements the first, I investigate the psychological factors that elevate a hedonic consumption experience into one that is “special.” Given that all else being equal, marketplace experiences that consumers deem special are likely to be seen as more valuable, thereby creating greater customer value, it is in marketers’ interest to make certain consumption experiences special. In my second essay, across five studies, I synthesize insights from an analysis of numerous consumer informant narratives and depth interviews, a field survey, natural language processing of more than four million Yelp reviews, a pre-registered experimental test of the major pillars of special consumption experiences, and an experimental analysis of Instagram posts.

The findings converge in identifying three main psychological pillars of what makes consumption experiences special, each with multiple facets: (a) uniqueness (defined by the rarity, novelty, personalization, exclusivity, surpassing of expectations, and ephemerality facets of the experience); (b) meaningfulness (based on the significance of the experience in relation to symbolic importance, relationships, identities, and personal transformations); and (c) authenticity (regarding perceived genuineness and realness, in light of the source, presentation, and prototypicality of the experience). The findings have substantive business implications for the engineering of hedonic consumption experiences.


This item is currently under embargo. It will be available starting 2029-05-20.

More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Pham, Michel T.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 22, 2024