The Effects of Virtual Reality Advertisement on Consumer's Intention to Purchase: Focused on Rational and Emotional Responses

가상현실(Virtual Reality) 광고가 소비자 구매의도에 미치는 영향: 이성적인 반응과 감성적인 반응의 통합

  • Published : 2009.12.31


According to Wikipedia, virtual reality (VR) is defined as a technology that allows a user to interact with a computer-simulated environment. Due to a rapid growth in information technology (IT), the cost of virtual reality has been decreasing while the utility of virtual reality advertisements has dramatically increased. Nevertheless, only a few studies have investigated the effects of virtual reality advertisement on consumer behaviors. Therefore, the objective of this study is to empirically examine the effects of virtual reality advertisement. Compared to traditional online advertisements, virtual reality advertisement enables consumers to experience products realistically over the Internet by providing high media richness, interactivity, and telepresence (Suh and Lee, 2005). Advertisements with high media richness facilitate consumers' understanding of advertised products by providing them with a large amount and a high variety of information on the products. Interactivity also provides consumers with a high level of control over the computer-simulated environment in terms of their abilities to adjust the information according to their individual interests and concerns and to be active rather than passive in their engagement with the information (Pimentel and Teixera, 1994). Through high media richness and interactivity, virtual reality advertisements can generate compelling feelings of "telepresence" (Suh and Lee, 2005). Telepresence is a sense of being there in an environment by means of a communication medium (Steuer, 1992). Virtual reality advertisements enable consumers to create a perceptual illusion of being present and highly engaged in a simulated environment, while they are in reality physically present in another place (Biocca, 1997). Based on the characteristics of virtual reality advertisements, a research model has been proposed to explain consumer responses to the virtual reality advertisements. The proposed model includes two dimensions of consumer responses. One dimension is consumers' rational response, which is based on the Information Processing Theory. Based on the Information Processing Theory, product knowledge and perceived risk are selected as antecedents of intention to purchase. The other dimension is emotional response of consumers, which is based on the Attitude-Structure Theory. Based on the Attitude-Structure Theory, arousal, flow, and positive affect are selected as antecedents of intention to purchase. Because it has been criticized to have investigated only one of the two dimensions of consumer response in prior studies, our research model has been built so as to incorporate both dimensions. Based on the Attitude-Structure Theory, we hypothesized the path of consumers' emotional responses to a virtual reality advertisement: (H1) Arousal by the virtual reality advertisement increases flow; (H2) Flow increases positive affect; and (H3) Positive affect increases intension to purchase. In addition, we hypothesized the path of consumers' rational responses to the virtual reality advertisement based on the Information Processing Theory: (H4) Increased product knowledge through the virtual reality advertisement decreases perceived risk; and (H5) Perceived risk decreases intension to purchase. Based on literature of flow, we additionally hypothesized the relationship between flow and product knowledge: (H6) Flow increases product knowledge. To test the hypotheses, we conducted a free simulation experiment [Fromkin and Streufert, 1976] with 300 people. Subjects were asked to use the virtual reality advertisement of a cellular phone on the Internet and then answer questions about the variables. To check whether subjects fully experienced the virtual reality advertisement, they were asked to answer a quiz about the virtual reality advertisement itself. Responses of 26 subjects were dropped because of their incomplete answers. Responses of 274 subjects were used to test the hypotheses. It was found that all of six hypotheses are accepted. In addition, we found that consumers' emotional response has stronger impact on their intention to purchase than their rational response does. This study sheds much light into practical implications for both IS researchers and managers. First of all, while most of previous research has analyzed only one of the customers' rational and emotional responses, we theoretically incorporated and empirically examined both of the two sides. Second, we empirically showed that mediators such as arousal, flow, positive affect, product knowledge, and perceived risk play an important role between virtual reality advertisement and customer's intention to purchase. In addition, the findings of this study can provide a basis of practical strategies for managers. It was found that consumers' emotional response is stronger than their rational response. This result indicates that advertisements using virtual reality should focus on the emotional side, and that virtual reality can be served as an appropriate advertisement tool for fancy products that require their online advertisements to give an impetus to customers' emotion. Finally, even if this study examined the effects of virtual reality advertisement of cellular phone, its findings could be applied to other products that are suited for virtual experience. However, this research has some limitations. We were unable to control different kinds of consumers and different attributes of products on consumers' intention to purchase. It is, therefore, deemed important for future research to control the consumer and product types for more reliable results. In addition to the consumer and product attributes, other variables could affect consumers' intention to purchase. Thus, the future research needs to find ways t control other variables.



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