In our new study, we investigated the benefits that AR applications bring to people – and why they are important. The link to the free study download can be found at the end of the article.
A look into the future of shopping: augmented reality in retailing
In our study, we looked at augmented reality (AR) product visualizers. AR has the potential to enhance the shopping experience by embedding digital information (usually virtual products) into the real environment. Imagine being able to see a piece of furniture right in your living room before you buy it (available from Ikea and others), or trying on an item of clothing virtually. This is exactly the kind of experience that AR makes possible.
Methodology: In-depth insights into augmented reality through means-end chain theory
To understand how consumers perceive and use AR in retail, we drew on Means-End Chain (MEC) theory and the laddering technique. This methodology allows us to dive deep into the minds of consumers and explore the connections between the characteristics of AR, the resulting benefits and the ultimate values that guide consumers’ behaviors.
MEC theory is a model that explains how consumers perceive and evaluate products and services based on the link between their attributes, resulting benefits and ultimate personal values. It assumes that consumers make decisions by linking the attributes of a product to their own desired end states or values, allowing a deeper understanding of their purchase motivations.
Key findings: What makes augmented reality in retail so special?
Our research has provided many detailed insights into the “utility” of AR product visualizers. All of these are discussed in detail in the paper.
Some key findings are:
- Unique features of AR: AR offers unique features such as context embedding and interactivity, allowing users to see and experience products in a realistic context.
- Clear benefits for consumers: The technology promotes better decision making, time savings and a reduction in perceived risk. We classify this as SEAD (sensory, efficiency, assessment, discovery)
- Higher-level value contribution: The use of AR in retail can achieve higher-level values such as self-confidence and self-expression, which ultimately influences purchasing behavior. We classify these as SALES (status, achievement, lifestyle, economy, safety)
Conclusion: augmented reality as a game changer in retail
This study not only provides valuable insights into the mechanisms and benefits of AR in retail, but also provides a practical framework for its effective implementation. As retail managers, these insights can be used to create AR experiences that not only maximize consumer benefits, but also make a significant contribution to achieving business goals.
Study & free download
This paper was conducted in collaboration with my esteemed colleagues Harish Kumar, Madhushree Nanda Agarwal, Rajesh Kumar Singh and Ritu Srivastava. After successful peer review, it was published in the journal “Information & Management”. Thanks to “Open Access” it can be read and used free of charge.
Kumar, H., Rauschnabel, P. A., Agarwal, M. N., Singh, R. K., & Srivastava, R. (2023). Towards a theoretical framework for augmented reality marketing: A means-end chain perspective on retailing. Information & Management, 103910. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.im.2023.103910