In 2009 Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn set out to measure the value of stories. They began by buying cheap knickknacks for less than $1.50 each and hired some creative writers to write stories about these objects. Then they posted the stories along with the items on eBay. They wanted to see if the fictional stories would increase the value of these items.
For example, a simple globe paper weight was accompanied by a handwritten letter from a friend with the story of a broken marriage, an affair, sex, world travel, loneliness and questions of self-esteem.
Someone identified with this story and paid $197.50 for it. Walker and Glenn bought the article for $1.49. And so it continued with the rest of the items.
$129 Total price of the purchased items
$3613 Net profit from eBay sales
2700% Final Markup
The answer is: Storytelling.
The stories gave people an emotional connection, they gave them the chance to stimulate their imagination and imagine a reason to value the objects.
As long as we are confronted with human society, we will always deal with both emotional and logical aspects. Factual arguments, statistics, product features cause us to be critical and skeptical, but when we are immersed in a story, we lose our intellectual skepticism and become emotionally engaged.
This project is a shining example of the tremendous power of storytelling and what a significant impact it has on how a successful company positions and differentiates itself from others.
Buyers are buying products not only by making choices, but also by consciously expressing their identity. We identify with the story and then buy the product.
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