Advertisement

Journal of Brand Management

, Volume 20, Issue 4, pp 283–297 | Cite as

The impact of storytelling on the consumer brand experience: The case of a firm-originated story

  • Anna Lundqvist
  • Veronica Liljander
  • Johanna Gummerus
  • Allard van Riel
Original Article

Abstract

Stories fascinate people and are often more easily remembered than facts. Much has been written about the power of stories in branding, but very little empirical evidence exists of their effects on consumer responses. In the present study, we investigate how a firm-originated story influences consumers’ brand experience, by comparing the brand experiences of two groups of consumers. One group was exposed to the story and one group was not. An existing brand was used in the study, which had not been launched in the focal country. In-depth interviews were conducted with individuals in the two experimental conditions. The comparison revealed remarkable differences between the two groups. Consumers who were exposed to the story described the brand in much more positive terms and were willing to pay more for the product. The study contributes to brand management research and practice by demonstrating the power of storytelling on consumer experiences. The results are also important from a managerial point of view. They demonstrate how brand stories can be used to create and reinforce positive brand associations. A review of past research in combination with the findings demonstrates that more research is needed on the effect of stories on consumer brand responses.

Keywords

storytelling brand experience brand associations brand value qualitative method experiment 

References

  1. Aaker, D.A. (1991) Managing Brand Equity: Capitalizing on the Value of a Brand Name. New York: The Free Press.Google Scholar
  2. Aaker, J.L. (1997) Dimensions of brand personality. Journal of Marketing Research 34 (3): 347–356.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Adaval, R. and Wyer, R.S. (1998) The role of narratives in consumer information processing. Journal of Consumer Psychology 7 (3): 207–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Argo, J.J., Zhu, R.J. and Dahl, D.W. (2008) Fact of fiction: An investigation of empathy differences in response to emotional melodramatic entertainment. Journal of Consumer Research 34 (February): 614–623.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Benjamin, B. (2006) The case study: Storytelling in industrial age and beyond. On the Horizon 14 (4): 159–164.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bitner, M.J. (1992) Servicescapes: The impact of physical surroundings on customers and employees. Journal of Marketing 56 (2): 57–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Black, H.G. and Kelley, S.W. (2009) A storytelling perspective on online customer reviews reporting service failure and recovery. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing 26 (2): 169–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brakus, J.J., Schmitt, B.H. and Zarantonello, L. (2009) Brand experience. What is it? How is it measured? Does it affect loyalty? Journal of Marketing 73 (3): 52–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Brown, S. and Patterson, A. (2010) Selling stories: Harry Potter and the marketing plot. Psychology & Marketing 27 (6): 541–556.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Busselle, R. and Bilandzic, H. (2008) Fictionality and perceived realism in experiencing stories: A model of narrative comprehension and engagement. Communication Theory 18 (2): 255–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Chang, C. (2009) ‘Being hooked’ by editorial content: The implications for processing narrative advertising. Journal of Advertising 38 (3): 51–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Chernatony, L. and Mcdonald, M. (2003) Creating Powerful Brands in Consumer Service and Industrial Markets. Oxford: Butterworth Heinemann.Google Scholar
  13. Delgadillo, Y. and Escalas, E.J. (2004) Narrative word-of-mouth communication: Exploring memory and attitude effects of consumer storytelling. In: B.E. Kahn and M.F. Luce (eds.) Advances in Consumer Research. Valdosta, GA: Association for Consumer Research.Google Scholar
  14. Durgee, J.F. (1988) Commentary. On cézanne, hott bottons and interpreting consumer storytelling. Journal of Consumer Marketing 5 (4): 47–51.Google Scholar
  15. Eisenhardt, K.M. (1989) Building theories from case study research. Academy of Management Review 14 (4): 532–550.Google Scholar
  16. Escalas, J.E. (2004a) Imagine yourself in the product: Mental simulation, narrative transportation, and persuasion. Journal of Advertising 33 (2): 37–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Escalas, J.E. (2004b) Narrative processing: Building consumer connections to brands. Journal of Consumer Psychology 14 (1/2): 168–180.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Firat, F.A. and Venkatesh, A. (1995) Liberatory postmodernism and the reenchantment of consumption. Journal of Consumer Research 22 (3): 239–267.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Flyvbjerg, B. (2006) Five misunderstandings about case-study research. Qualitative Inquiry 12 (2): 219–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fog, K., Budtz, C. and Yakaboylu, B. (2005) Storytelling: Branding in Practice. Berlin: Springer.Google Scholar
  21. Fournier, S. (1998) Consumers and their brands: Developing relationship theory. Journal of Consumer Research 24 (March): 343–373.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Gabbott, M. and Hogg, G. (1996) The glory of stories: Using critical incidents to understand service evaluation in the primary healthcare context. Journal of Marketing Management 12 (6): 493–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Gabriel, Y. and Lang, T. (1995) The Unmanageable Consumer: Contemporary Consumption and Its Fragmentation. London: SAGE Publications.Google Scholar
  24. Green, M.C. and Brock, T.C. (2000) Transportation in the persuasiveness of public narratives. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 79 (5): 701–721.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Green, M.C., Brock, T.C. and Kaufman, G.F. (2008) Understanding media enjoyment: The role of transportation into narrative worlds. Communication Theory 14 (4): 311–327.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Guber, P. (2007) The four truths of the storyteller. Harvard Business Review 85 (12): 52–59.Google Scholar
  27. Gummesson, E. (2007) Case study research and network theory: Birds of a feather. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management: An International Journal 2 (3): 226–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Halliday, J. (1998) Ford division expands storytelling ads for ‘99. Automotive News 24 August: 72.Google Scholar
  29. Hirschman, E.C. (2010) Evolutionary branding. Psychology & Marketing 27 (6): 568–583.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Holt, D.B. (2002) Why do brands cause trouble? A dialectical theory of consumer culture and branding. Journal of Consumer Research 29 (1): 70–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Holt, D.B. (2003) What becomes an icon most? Harvard Business Review 81 (3): 43–49.Google Scholar
  32. Holt, D.B. and Thompson, C.J. (2004) Man-of-action heroes: The pursuit of heroic masculinity in everyday consumption. Journal of Consumer Research 31 (2): 425–440.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hopkinson, G. and Hogarth-Scott, S. (2001) ‘What happened was …’ broadening the agenda for storied research. Journal of Marketing Management 17 (1–2): 27–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Hsu, S.-Y., Dehuang, N. and Woodside, A.G. (2009) Storytelling research on consumers’ self-reports of urban tourism experiences in China. Journal of Business Research 62 (12): 1223–1254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Jensen, R. (1999) The Dream Society: How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  36. Kapferer, J.-N. (2008) Strategic Brand Management. Creating and Sustaining Brand Equity Long Term. London: Kogan Page.Google Scholar
  37. Kaufman, B. (2003) Stories that sell, stories that tell. Journal of Business Strategy 24 (2): 11–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Keller, K.L. (1993) Conceptualizing, measuring, and managing customer-based brand equity. Journal of Marketing 57 (January): 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Keller, K.L. (1998) Strategic Brand Management: Building, Measuring, and Managing Brand Equity. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  40. Keller, K.L., Aperia, T. and Georgson, M. (2008) Strategic Brand Management. A European Perspective. Harlow, UK: Pearson Education Limited.Google Scholar
  41. Kelley, T. and Littman, J. (2006) The Ten Faces of Innovation: Strategies for Heightening Creativity. London: Profile Books.Google Scholar
  42. Koll, O., Von Wallpach, S. and Kreutzer, M. (2010) Multi-method research on consumer-brand associations: Comparing free associations, storytelling, and collages. Psychology & Marketing 27 (6): 584–602.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Kozinets, R.V., Valck De, K., Wojnicki, A.C. and Wilner, S.J.S. (2010) Networked narratives: Understanding word-of-mouth marketing in online communities. Journal of Marketing 74 (2): 71–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Leone, R.P., Rao, V.R., Keller, K.L., Luo, A.M., McAlister, L. and Srivastava, R. (2006) Linking brand equity to customer equity. Journal of Service Research 9 (2): 125–138.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Mattila, A.S. (2000) The role of narratives in the advertising of experiential services. Journal of Service Research 3 (1): 35–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mazzocco, P.J., Green, M.C., Sasota, J.A. and Jones, N.W. (2010) This story is not for everyone: Transportability and narrative persuasion. Social Psychology and Personality Science 1 (4): 361–368.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Megehee, C.M. and Woodside, A.G. (2010) Creating visual narrative art for decoding stories that consumers and brands tell. Psychology & Marketing 27 (6): 603–622.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Merchant, A., Ford, J.B. and Sargeant, A. (2010) Charitable organizations’ storytelling influence on donors’ emotions and intentions. Journal of Business Research 63 (7): 754–762.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Mossberg, L. (2008) Extraordinary experiences through storytelling. Scandinavian Journal of Hospitality and Tourism 8 (3): 195–210.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Mossberg, L. and Nissen Johansen, E. (2006) Storytelling: Marknadsföring i upplevelseindustrin, [Storytelling: Marketing in the Experience Industry] Göteborg, Sweden: Studentlitteratur.Google Scholar
  51. Padgett, D. and Allen, D. (1997) Communicating experiences: A narrative approach to creating service brand image. Journal of Advertising 26 (4): 49–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Pattersson, A. and Brown, S. (2005) No tale, no sale: A novel approach to marketing communication. Marketing Review 5 (4): 315–328.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Patton, M.Q. (1990) Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. London: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  54. Peracchio, L. and Escalas, E.J. (2008) Tell me a story: Crafting and publishing research in consumer psychology. Journal of Consumer Psychology 18 (3): 197–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Ragin, C.C. (1999) The distinctiveness of case-oriented research. Health Services Research 34 (5): 1137–1151.Google Scholar
  56. Rosen, E. (2000) The Anatomy of Buzz: How to Create Word-of-Mouth Marketing. London: Harper Collins Business.Google Scholar
  57. Salzer-Mörling, M. and Strannegård, L. (2004) Silence of the brands. European Journal of Marketing 83 (1/2): 224–238.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Sax, B. (2006) Storytelling and the ‘information overload’. On the Horizon 14 (4): 165–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Schembri, S., Merriless, B. and Kristiansen, S. (2010) Brand consumption and the narrative of the self. Psychology & Marketing 27 (6): 623–637.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Shankar, A., Elliot, R. and Goulding, C. (2001) Understanding consumption: Contributions from a narrative perspective. Journal of Marketing Management 17 (3/4): 429–453.Google Scholar
  61. Silverstein, M.J. and Fiske, N. (2003) Luxury for the masses. Harvard Business Review 81 (4): 48–57.Google Scholar
  62. Simmons, J. (2006) Guinness and the role of strategic storytelling. Journal of Strategic Marketing 14 (March): 11–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Solnet, D. and Kandampully, J. (2008) How some service firms have become part of ‘service excellence’ folklore: An exploratory study. Managing Service Quality 18 (2): 179–193.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Spiggle, S. (1994) Analysis and interpretation of qualitative data in consumer research. Journal of Consumer Research 21 (December): 491–503.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Stake, R.E. (2000) Case studies. In: N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (eds.) Handbook of Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  66. Stern, B.B. (1994) Classical and vignette television advertising dramas: Structural models, formal analysis and consumer effects. Journal of Consumer Research 20 (4): 601–615.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Stern, B.B., Thompson, C.J. and Arnould, E.J. (1998) Narrative analysis of a marketing relationship: The consumer's perspective. Psychology & Marketing 15 (3): 195–214.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Thompson, C.J., Rindfleisch, A. and Zeynep, A. (2006) Emotional branding and the strategic value of the Doppelgänger brand image. Journal of Marketing 70 (January): 50–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Twitchell, J.B. (2004) An English teacher looks at branding. Journal of Consumer Research 32 (2): 484–489.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. van Laer, T. (2011) Return of the narrative. Doctoral dissertation. University of Maastricht, The Netherlands.Google Scholar
  71. Vincent, L. (2002) Legendary Brands: Unleashing the Power of Storytelling to Create a Winning Marketing Strategy. New York: Dearborn Trad Publishing.Google Scholar
  72. Wood, L. (2000) Brands and brand equity: Definition and management. Management Decision 38 (9): 662–669.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Woodside, A.G. (2010) Case Study Research: Theory, Methods, Practice. Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing.Google Scholar
  74. Woodside, A.G., Sood, S. and Miller, K.E. (2008) When consumers and brand talk: Storytelling theory and research in psychology and marketing. Psychology & Marketing 25 (2): 97–145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. WWW.DCBENJER.COM. (2010) History of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, http://www.dcbenjer.com/, accessed 10 June.

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anna Lundqvist
  • Veronica Liljander
    • 1
  • Johanna Gummerus
  • Allard van Riel
  1. 1.Department of MarketingHanken School of EconomicsHelsinkiFinland

Personalised recommendations