Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Collier, Joel E.

Committee Member

Breazeale, Michael J.

Committee Member

Moore, Robert S.

Committee Member

Shanahan, Kevin J.

Committee Member

Punday, Daniel

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Complete embargo for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access



Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Business


Department of Marketing, Quantitative Analysis and Business Law


Nearly every element of human life has a strong narrative component, from music (Kramer, 1991, McClary, 1997) to psychology (McAdams, 2008; Sarbin, 1986) to museums (Austin, 2010) and beyond. In the marketing of products, particularly products online, narratives may be a severely underutilized resource. As the global pandemic has shifted consumption increasingly online (Ecola et al., 2020, Melton, 2020), marketers are challenged to find new ways to make their product appealing to consumers without the ability of physical experiences that help connect a consumer to a product (Thaler, 1980; Peck and Shu, 2009). One way in which product attachment and differentiation may be generated is through product-level narratives. The influence of narratives at a product level, particularly in online product descriptions, has yet to be explored. In this dissertation, I use the theoretical framework of Narrative Transportation Theory to examine the impact of narrative-based product descriptions on consumers’ responses to products. Specifically, I show that product-level narratives can positively influence consumer’s attitudes toward a product and can even create the impression that a product is customized to an individual. Through these effects, I show that product-level narratives may increase consumers’ attachment to products and their willingness to pay a premium price for these products. I also demonstrate that product-level narratives may be used to create perceptions of product personality types. In particular, I look at whether the personality of the main character in a narrative may be imprinted onto the product in the narrative. Furthermore, I seek to extend the bounds of Narrative Transportation Theory by examining product names and images that are evocative of narrative thought. I show that while product names may not be enough to stimulate consumer transportation among readers, product images may stimulate consumer transportation into a narrative and influence consumers’ willingness to pay a premium price for a product through the same mechanisms as a textual narrative product description. Lastly, implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Available for download on Monday, May 15, 2023