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Article
Publication date: 17 March 2022

Sihem Ben Saad and Fatma Choura

The rapid progress of information and communication technologies enables business creators to access a wide variety of tools. These tools facilitate electronic exchanges and…

Abstract

Purpose

The rapid progress of information and communication technologies enables business creators to access a wide variety of tools. These tools facilitate electronic exchanges and interactions with customers and companies. The purpose of this study is to test and compare the effectiveness of two virtual reality technologies, the avatar and anthropomorphic virtual agents, on consumers’ psychological states and perceived realism.

Design/methodology/approach

An experimental survey was conducted to measure the potential superiority of the anthropomorphic virtual agent over the avatar and to identify the determining characteristics of the anthropomorphic virtual agent’s effectiveness. An experimental website was designed for the purpose of the study. A total of 1,262 internet users participated in the experiment.

Findings

Results confirm the superiority of the anthropomorphic virtual agent over the avatar in affecting consumers’ flow state, telepresence experience and perceived realism. These findings can be explained by the humanized characteristics of this type of agent (i.e. verbal and nonverbal language).

Originality/value

The originality of this research lies in the study of different forms of social interactivity. This latter has been little studied and essentially treated with a dichotomous perspective (presence/absence of a virtual agent). New trends in digital marketing challenge entrepreneurs to be proactive and to anticipate customers’ behavior on their online stores. That is why, virtual reality technologies, namely, anthropomorphic agents, can be considered as a relevant tool to engage in efficient inbound marketing strategies. Today, the development of intelligent technologies encourages entrepreneurs operating online to design more interactive, realistic and humanized virtual merchant environments that are more adapted to the realities of the new consumption trends and environment.

Details

Journal of Research in Marketing and Entrepreneurship, vol. 24 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1471-5201

Keywords

Article
Publication date: 10 November 2022

Sihem Ben Saad and Fatma Choura

In the context of a profound digital transformation, the need for social interactivity is becoming fundamental for consumers on e-commerce sites. It allows them to interact with…

1668

Abstract

Purpose

In the context of a profound digital transformation, the need for social interactivity is becoming fundamental for consumers on e-commerce sites. It allows them to interact with the company in the same way as with salespeople in physical stores. Among the different existing virtual agents used by companies to offer online solid interaction, this study focuses on virtual recommendation agents (VRAs). The purpose of this paper is to investigate the effectiveness of VRA on consumers’ psychological states and online impulse buying.

Design/methodology/approach

An experimental website was designed for this study. After interacting with VRA, respondents had to take part in a survey. The questionnaire included measures of perception of the VRA, perceived enjoyment, online impulse buying and perceived risk. Structural equation modelling was used to test the research model.

Findings

The results confirm the positive influence of the VRA on perceived enjoyment, which is positively associated with online impulse buying. The effect of the VRA’s presence on perceived enjoyment is moderated by gender.

Research limitations/implications

Only one product category was studied, for which the advice of VRAs is undoubtedly essential. However, this could also be valid for other products, such as technological products, where the consumer’s level of expertise may be low. Hence, the authors propose to extend this study to various products for a better generalization of the results.

Practical implications

This study provides practitioners with relevant findings on the efficiency of VRAs and offers them guidelines to design more interactive commercial websites with higher levels of social interactions. Such interactions should reduce perceived risks and make visitors more confident. This can encourage more traffic and sales, which implies growth in incomes and revenues.

Social implications

Through this technology, VRAs can create more humanized links between consumers and companies.

Originality/value

Working on VRAs is original as they represent the technology that can replace salespeople. In addition, to the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is the first to test the impact of VRA on online impulse buying. By examining the VRA’s set of fundamental capabilities, this study contributes to existing research on how companies should integrate digital technologies in their sales interactions with consumers, which to date has focused on other sales channels such as social media platforms.

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