Edited by Russell W. Belk
Chapter 34: The Consumption of Stories
Sidney J. Levy Modern marketing thought broadly interprets consumption to include all objects, ideas and experiences. This chapter explores how stories, like anything else, are consumed, that is, taken up, internalized and transformed. It reports a qualitative inquiry into the stories that college undergraduates remember from their childhood and what those and subsequent tales mean to them. The study has two general aims: one, it seeks insight into the main ways consumers internalize and interpret stories as meaningful to them; two, I was especially curious about how, given their historic and pervasive importance, religious tales are ardently believed and lead to a desire to proselytize on their behalf. It is useful to start by recognizing that the word ‘story’ has many implications. It is evident that anything we tell one another is a story of some kind. A common dictionary lists eight deﬁnitions that range from facts to ﬁction, truth to lies, rumors to news, amusement to drama, and use such synonyms as history, account, statement, anecdote, narrative, article, etc.; and we could add a long list of other terms: tale, myth, gossip, chronicle, report, gospel, scriptures, saga, etc. These terms indicate the multitude of ways people express themselves by telling stories, and justify the exchange of stories as a marketing activity. Varieties and levels of analysis There are also many ways of explaining how people consume stories. Within our ﬁeld are scholars who examine the eﬀects of commercials as persuasive stories, or the appeal of particular forms...
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