AUGMENTING THE REALITY : Can AR Technology Entice Consumer Engagement? A Quantitative Study
Abstract: Today, advances in the technological sector spurs invention toward new heights. What can be achieved today was just decades ago science fiction. Recent years, augmented reality has emerged which is explained by Kipper & Rampolla (2012, p. 1) as a technology that combines the real world with virtual objects which creates a supplement to reality. With its ability to strengthen the impressions of reality by weaving the physical and the digital world together, enables it to be used in various settings. The retail industry has been struggling as of late, with e-commerce flourishing on one hand but contrastingly classic brick-and-mortar stores foreclosing by the thousands. Thus, a technology that has the ability to combine these two channels would thus act as a mitigating force enabling customers to virtually try on their clothes or make furniture digitally appear in their living room. There are numerous possibilities with this technology, given that it can be used in different industries as well with examples from the marketing and gaming industries as the most prominent. What is evident is its ability to interact and engage, making it a usable tool for many activities. Thus, through this thesis we study if augmented reality can affect consumer engagement, and if so which attributes of it has significant positive relationships with the dimensions of consumer engagement. In this thesis, we first provide a framework in which to measure augmented reality in general settings quantitatively, through the use of attributes. These attributes consist of; Interactivity, Playfulness (Escapism & Enjoyment), Service Excellence, Aesthetics, Ease of Use and Perceived Usefulness. We then hypothesize the attributes relationship with two dimensions of consumer engagement identified by Hollebeek et al. (2014); Affection and Cognitive Processing. However, Ease of Use and Service Excellence were not tested in this thesis, as a result of unsatisfactory loadings in the factor analysis. Through an online survey, 79 useful responses were collected and used in testing the hypotheses. Significant positive relationships were found for all tested attributes and Affection, and further significant positive relationships were found between Aesthetics and Perceived Usefulness with Cognitive Processing. It is our belief that this thesis further develops and solidify the current work with consumer engagement quantitively by validating the use of a known framework. Further, it adds to the literature by adopting a general definition of the concept of consumer engagement. This thesis also adds to quantitative work with augmented reality by creating and using a framework in which to study the attributes of augmented reality in a general setting, which has not been done previously. For practitioners, this thesis provides insight into which attributes of augmented reality systems should be emphasized in order to maximize consumer engagement. The thesis ends in suggestions for future research, where we call upon further testing on consumer engagement across different contexts with the use of Hollebeek et al.’s (2014) framework. Such work could lead to a universally accepted quantitative scale for measuring consumer engagement. Lastly, adopting the framework for augmented reality presented in this thesis and applying it to further contexts could yield valuable results, and further tests on Ease of Use and Service Excellence to validate their importance for consumer engagement would be of utmost interest.
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