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YouTube: an opportunity for consumer narrative analysis?

Stefano Pace (Università Bocconi, Milano, Italy)

Qualitative Market Research

ISSN: 1352-2752

Article publication date: 4 April 2008




The aim of the paper is to discuss a possible extension of narrative analysis to a new medium of expression of consumer behaviour, specifically YouTube.


Marketing and consumer behaviour studies often apply narrative analysis to understand consumption. The consumer is a source of introspective narratives that are studied by scholars. However, consumption has a narrative nature in itself and consumers are also storytellers. YouTube is a new context in which subjects tell stories to an audience through self‐made videos and re‐edited TV programs. After defining the pros and cons of different approaches to the study of YouTube, narrative analysis is presented as a possible means of understanding YouTube.


Some preliminary evidence is presented by discussing several YouTube videos. These indicate that YouTube content can be better understood as stories, rather than example of other approaches, such as visual analysis, media studies, videography, and others.

Research limitations/implications

From the analysis conducted, preliminary managerial implications can be drawn. It seems unlikely that normal TV broadcasters will be substituted by YouTube videos. For the most part, YouTube content draws its sense and shared meaning from the major TV shows and series. The discursive nature of YouTube is also an indication of how to deal with this new medium as a company or researcher.


The paper is an attempt to open up new applications of interpretive market research in the form of narrative analysis. It explores a new context that is gaining relevance in both the marketing literature and managerial practice.



Pace, S. (2008), "YouTube: an opportunity for consumer narrative analysis?", Qualitative Market Research, Vol. 11 No. 2, pp. 213-226.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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