A particular type of consumer enjoys stories with plots,
characters, and imagery that allow them to get lost in the
narrative, according to our new study in theJournal of Consumer
Stories have the power to change people's behaviour.
Contemporary examples include the persuasive power of Latin
American telenovelas, which influence family planning choices and
enrolment in adult literacy programs, as well as Internet users
sharing written stories, photos, and videos about themselves and
their market experiences.
Ko de Ruyter (Maastricht University), Luca M. Visconti (ESCP
Europe Business School), Martin Wetzels (Maastricht University),
and I wanted to understand what kinds of stories allowed consumers
to mentally enter a story, a phenomenon called "narrative
transportation." We also wondered which kinds of consumers were
more likely to identify with the narratives. We reviewed articles
written in five different languages that dealt with the theme of
narrative transportation and tested consumer reactions to those
We found that consumers were most likely to engage with
realistic stories with identifiable characters and plots that
easily lead to mental imagery. We also identified five
characteristics that made participants more able to be transported:
familiarity, attention, ability to fantasize, higher education, and
Consumers who are 'transported' are changed by their experience.
People who lose themselves in a story accept the story is true and
relate to the characters. As the Hopi proverb goes, 'The one who
tells the story rules the world,' and now we know how.
Tom van Laer, Ko de Ruyter, Luca M. Visconti, and Martin
Wetzels."The Extended Transportation-Imagery Model: A Meta-Analysis
of the Antecedents and Consequences of Consumers' Narrative
Transportation." Journal of Consumer Research: February 2014. For
the full paper, contact Tom van Laer or visit http://www.jstor.org/stable/info/10.1086/673383.