Becoming familiar with eternal anonymity: how sperm banks use relationship marketing strategy

Ya’arit Bokek-Cohen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The article focuses on donor profiles as a major marketing tool of the fertility industry and proposes some theoretical insights into sperm banking and sperm consumption, using a content analysis of 135 extended sperm donor profiles and a visual analysis of 36 baby photos in nine sperm banks. Theorizing sperm consumption is inspired by Grönroos' conceptualization of relationship marketing (RM). Contrary to conventional logic, I show how RM itself has become a product on its own, rather than a business strategy: while the sperm consumer is invited through anonymously written narratives to become an active prosumer by encoding and decoding parts of the donor's identity, the imaginary relationship with the donor constitutes the core product. Since donor profiles are purchased as a complementary service product, sperm banks activate identity construction among the donors by asking them to provide lengthy essays; donors produce polyphonic narratives and therefore participate in a Bakhtinian mask parade.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-177
Number of pages23
JournalConsumption Markets and Culture
Issue number2
StatePublished - 4 Mar 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Taylor & Francis.


  • branding
  • complementary product
  • identity
  • relationship marketing
  • service logic
  • sperm donation


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