The business of D-Day: An exploratory study of consumer behaviour

Document Type

Journal Article




School of Business




Maccarthy, M., Willson, G. (2015). The business of D-Day: An exploratory study of consumer behaviour in International Journal of Heritage Studies, 21(7), 698-715. Available here.


In this exploratory study the symbolic aspects of heritage tourism are considered from a consumer behaviour perspective. A qualitative study was conducted of key tourist sites in the Normandy D-Day landing region of France. Museums, cemeteries, gun batteries, beaches and plinths comprise the key significant sites of tourist visitation to the region. Using two seminal consumer behaviour models, Holts four metaphors of consumption and Belk, Wallendorf, and Sherrys Sacred and Profane dichotomy experiences and perceptions of five academics and their interaction with site visitors were compiled, compared and interpreted using key concepts of authenticity and verisimilitude favoured by MacCannell. The result confirms the a priori hypothesis that economic imperatives are at odds with perceptions of quality and sacredness, leading to the commodification of otherwise venerable sites. A number of quality determinants used to determine experience were also gleaned, namely historical significance, gravitas, ambience, number of exhibits, quality of exhibits, authenticity of exhibits, aesthetics in display and perceived respect in display. With due consideration to the criteria visitors used to determine experience quality, experience engineering can to some degree counter what appears to be an inversely proportional economic/quality dynamic.



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