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Virtual reality in social marketing: a process evaluation

Timo Dietrich (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia) (Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Sharyn Rundle-Thiele (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Krzysztof Kubacki (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
James Durl (Department of Marketing, Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Matthew J. Gullo (Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)
Denni Arli (Department of Marketing, Labovitz School of Business and Economics, University of Minnesota Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota, USA) (Griffith University, Nathan, Australia)
Jason P. Connor (Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia) (Discipline of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia)

Marketing Intelligence & Planning

ISSN: 0263-4503

Article publication date: 8 August 2019

Issue publication date: 18 September 2019

1818

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present an innovative reflexive process evaluation method for a social marketing programme featuring an innovative virtual reality (VR) simulation experience for adolescents.

Design/methodology/approach

A process evaluation framework focusing on three key elements – context, implementation and mechanisms of impact – was followed in this study. In total, 374 participants (mean age: 15.2 years, 58 per cent female) completed outcome evaluation surveys before and after the programme delivery, and 300 participants completed qualitative feedback forms following their participation in the VR component of the programme.

Findings

A process evaluation delivers insights beyond those attained in outcome evaluations, enhancing the understanding of factors contributing to programme success or failure that can be used to improve future programme iterations. The VR experience demonstrated high satisfaction scores with users, and the findings demonstrate the importance of a multi-disciplinary and industry partnered programme approach to support VR implementation and delivery.

Research limitations/implications

This research demonstrates that additional learnings are obtained from a process evaluation. The findings are limited to one specific research programme, and the outcome effects of the VR simulation have not been assessed in isolation.

Practical implications

The methods outlined in this paper offer a process evaluation tool that can be used by marketers and other practitioners to reflect on programme success or failure to enhance core offerings.

Originality/value

The application of Moore et al.’s (2015) process evaluation framework delivers a reflexive research tool that can be applied to critically consider three key elements: context, implementation and mechanisms of impact of developed programmes. VR’s capacity to provide a satisfying and highly valued programme resource that participants value for its realistic, novel and immersive experiential learning experience was demonstrated.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

This paper was funded by the Australian Research Council Linkage Program and Queensland Catholic Education Commission (LP150100772) and Griffith University. MJG is supported by a Medical Research Future Fund Translating Research into Practice (TRIP) Fellowship (1167986). The funders played no role in study design, collection, analysis, interpretation of data, or in the decision to submit the paper for publication. They accept no responsibility for contents. The authors extend their gratitude to the schools, staff, parents and students who assisted this research project.

Citation

Dietrich, T., Rundle-Thiele, S., Kubacki, K., Durl, J., Gullo, M.J., Arli, D. and Connor, J.P. (2019), "Virtual reality in social marketing: a process evaluation", Marketing Intelligence & Planning, Vol. 37 No. 7, pp. 806-820. https://doi.org/10.1108/MIP-11-2018-0537

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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