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Immersive netnography: a novel method for service experience research in virtual reality, augmented reality and metaverse contexts

Robert V. Kozinets (Marshall School of Business and Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Journal of Service Management

ISSN: 1757-5818

Article publication date: 28 March 2022

Issue publication date: 2 January 2023




As immersive technologies gain wider adoption, contemporary service researchers are tasked with studying their service experiences in ways that preserve and attend to their holistic and human characteristics. The purpose of this paper is to provide service researchers with a new qualitative approach to studying immersive technologies.


Using logic and following established methodological rules, this article develops the scope, definition and set of procedures for a novel form of netnography specifically adapted for the study of immersive technologies: immersive netnography. The research question is “How might netnography be adapted to research service experiences in virtual and augmented environments, which include and overlap with the notion of a Metaverse?”


Immersive netnography should be at the vanguard of phenomenological service experience studies of augmented reality, virtual reality and the Metaverse. A set of data collection, analysis, ethical and representational research practices, immersive netnography is adapted to digital media phenomena (customer and employee) that include immersive technology experiences. Developed through logical argumentation after analyzing key differences between social media and immersive technology, immersive netnography is procedurally customized for experience research in immersive technology environments.

Research limitations/implications

Three of the most significant practical limitations to producing high-quality netnography are rapidly changing contexts, scarce time resources and narrow researcher skillsets.

Practical implications

Industries and organizations may benefit from a new, holistically focused, ethically robust and culturally attuned market research method for understanding service experience in immersive technology contexts.


There have been no prior studies that develop netnography for the service research opportunities presented by immersive technologies. By applying the rigorous methodological guidance provided in this paper, future service researchers may find value in using specifically adapted qualitative research methods to study immersive technology experiences.



This paper forms part of a special section “Impacts of extended Reality Technologies on Consumption and Service Experiences”, guest edited by Wided Batat, Wafa Hammedi and Paula C. Peter.

The author would like to thank Jay Kandampully, Wided Batat, two very supportive anonymous reviewers and Ulrike Gretzel for helpful comments and feedback throughout the review process. The author would also like to acknowledge here the work of Richard Kedzior, Tom Boellstorff and so many other devoted netnographers over the year who have helped to systematically build and extend this approach.


Kozinets, R.V. (2023), "Immersive netnography: a novel method for service experience research in virtual reality, augmented reality and metaverse contexts", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 100-125.



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