Towards an understanding of celebrity worship among Indian consumers: an ethnoconsumerist approach
thesisposted on 29.03.2022, 02:59 authored by Anna Sahgal
Celebrity worship is a significant phenomenon in India. The stars of the Bollywood film industry are highly prominent celebrities. Their deification is not unusual in India, to the extent that some stars have temples dedicated to them. Although the need and importance of studies of consumption in non-Western societies has been recognised, little research has been undertaken in the marketing literature to better understand worship of Bollywood celebrities. This research interprets religious influences in the consumption and worship of Bollywood stars. Specifically, it examines the religious concept of darshan (a mode of seeing) and how it manifests itself invarious forms to influence Indian consumer behaviour. An ethnoconsumerist interpretive approach was adopted to address this research. Participants of different age groups, sex and religiosity were recruited in the North Indian region of Delhi for the study using in-depth interviews. The thesis consists of three research papers. The first research paper follows the guidelines of the ethnoconsumerist approach by presenting a text view. This is obtained from a collection of secondary sources and provides cultural insights. It also traces the historical development of Bollywood films and summarises religious and theatrical influences. The second research paper examines the impact of darshan on movie consuming experiences in India. Some important thematic findings reveal that Bollywood stars are viewed as mythical beings and act as role models for Indian consumers. The third research paper examines consumer devotional behaviour towards Bollywood stars in the context of masala films. Findings suggest three distinct levels with varying degrees of devotional consumer behaviour: bounded consumers, devoted followers and worshippers. Based on the findings, an interpretive framework of consumer devotion is proposed. This research contributes to the marketing literature in three ways: firstly, it integrates literature from both anthropology and marketing to suggest a new way of looking at Indian consumption. Second, it introduces the cultural concept of darshan to better understand Indian consumer behaviour in relation to Bollywood celebrity worship. Third, it suggests a new interpretive framework of consumer devotion which can stimulate future research.