Framing a gender-neutral place brand model: the case of ‘Doll Village’ in India




Gender, Heritage, Place branding, Co-creation, Uubiquitous


Gender perspective has been widely discussed in scholarly literature in connection with place branding. While assigning personality to ‘places as branded entities’ the socially constructed gender norms were often used. Empirical studies have showcased the gender power ascribed to places in stimulating decision-making and pulling visitors. However, society, as it is in constant flux, is drifting away from ubiquitous norms governing gender and sexuality and challenging the conventional gender identities and sexual orientation. These perceived value-shift has reflected in the marketing aspects as brands were stripped off its gender identity. Modern brands do not embody the aspirational notions of consumers, but are also reflective of social movements. This study focuses on developing a gender-neutral place brand model with intangible cultural heritage (ICH) as the core place asset. Prior studies have shown that traditional crafts and craftsmanship as ICH could be used to promote a place. However, ICH has not been considered as a place branding element that could neutralize gender perception for a place. The study was conducted at Natungram, a village in the district of West Bengal, India, known for its legacy of crafting wooden dolls. The study used a mixed method research (MMR) approach and used crossover analysis framework to assess the data. Five gender-neutral brand dimensions were identified, namely relational, participative, sensory, behavioural and cognitive with a 16 scale-item instrument being validated through confirmatory factor analysis. The spatial and phenomenal segregation index also confirmed a predominant gender-neutral perception amongst the visitors. Much of this could be attributed to the participation of the stakeholders of ICH of Natungram irrespective of their gender identity. This gender blurring effect also reflected in visitors’ engagement in co-creation activities which conformed with the theory of immersive experience. The study implicates In future this study could be expanded to incorporate other place assets which could be moulded into non-binary brand elements and should be conducted in other places with unique assets to check the transferability of the present study.


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Author Biographies

Arup Kumar Baksi, Professor, Dept. of Management and Business Administration, Aliah University, Kolkata, India.

PhD in Business Administration/ MGMT/2011/Burdwan University), MBA/ PGMGMT/1997/Burdwan University, MSc/ PGZOO/ 1995/ Burdwan University; BSc in Zoology/BU/1992. Professor, Dept. of Management and Business Administration, Aliah University, Kolkata, India. Director, IQAC, Member – Mixed Methods International Research Association; Reviewer for Elsevier, Springer, Sage and Taylor and Francis, Consultant in Govt. Projects, Principal Investigator in Research Projects. CV link: [ ]

Subhashree Sanyal, Assistant Professor (Grade-III), Dept. of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India.

PhD in Social Work/ DU/ 2015, MA in Social Work/ TISS/2008, MSc/ PGZOO/ 1995/, BA in Psychology/LSCD/ 2006. Assistant Professor (Grade-III), Dept. of Social Work, Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, India. State Level Consultant in Govt. Projects, Principal Investigator in Research Projects, Editorial Member, Contribution in UGC MOOCs. CV link: [ ]


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How to Cite

Baksi, A. K. ., & Sanyal, S. . (2023). Framing a gender-neutral place brand model: the case of ‘Doll Village’ in India. Anais Brasileiros De Estudos Turísticos, 13(1).