Like Cinderella, many repurposed products involve a biographical transformation, from a tattered past identity (e.g., an old airbag) to a product with a valuable but different new identity (e.g., a backpack made from an airbag). In this article, the authors argue that marketers should help customers infer such product stories by highlighting the products’ tattered past identities. Three field experiments and four controlled experiments show that making a product’s past identity salient boosts demand across a variety of repurposed products. This is because past identity salience induces narrative thoughts about these products’ biographies, which in turn allows customers to feel special. Results also suggest that this strategy of past identity salience needs to be particularly well-crafted for products with easily discernible past identities. These findings highlight a promising new facet of storytelling (i.e., stories that customers self-infer in response to minimal marketer input); create new opportunities for promoting products with a prior life; and deliver detailed guidance for the largely unexplored, growing market for upcycled and recycled products.
Austrian Classification of Fields of Science and Technology (ÖFOS)
- 502019 Marketing
- 502020 Market research
- 501021 Social psychology
- 501002 Applied psychology