The Pub Experience: A Qualitative Study of the Tangible and Intangible Aspects of Pub-goers’ Perceptions of Pubs
thesisposted on 15.08.2016, 15:16 by Thomas Rowell
The public house is understood as an iconic British establishment, which has existed for hundreds of years (Jones et al. 2002). Despite its heritage and social and economic benefits, the public house is rarely studied as more than simply a service setting or an unremarked-upon backdrop to other research questions. The lack of a nuanced understanding of the pub is especially problematic at the current juncture, when the public house market is experiencing a steady decline (Helsey and Seely, 2015). Firstly, the research sought to identify those elements of the pub central to shaping people’s experiences of the space. Secondly, the research sought to highlight recurrent themes within people’s experiences of pubs. Adopting an interpretivist stance, the research utilised semi-structured interviews with 18 pub customers. Respondents were sampled from six different Everards pubs, selected to capture a diversity of pub settings. The first research objective discovered three key tangible features of the pub space for pub-goers: physical features, staff and clientele. The second research objective revealed authenticity, nostalgia and escape as central themes of the pub experience. The key tangible features of the pub anchor potential escape from everyday life through authenticity and historical nostalgia. Finally, a holistic model of atmosphere for the pub space is proposed. Atmosphere is contingent on the key tangibles of the pub space, which in turn are impacted upon by several intervening variables. The thesis addresses a lack of research on the pub as a holistic space, by identifying recurrent tangible and intangible benefits of the pub experience, and exploring their interrelationships in offering a meaningful means of escape. The thesis thus aims to contribute to the marketing literature that has conceptualized escape, authenticity, nostalgia and atmosphere, and to offer empirically-grounded insight to the pub trade with regard to why people go to pubs.