Today’s 3D immersive experience. AR concept is often

Today’s world is rising with cut-throat competition in the marketing, where traditional way of direct sale has been invisible. It seems business world has brought digital marketing field quite a long way. Every day comes with advancement in technology and marketers requires to adopt it in order to hold the edge of survival in the growing era of digital world. Financial Times says, “Digital marketing refers to advertise or sell products through various format of digital media such as mobile services, display advertising, social media awareness, QR codes etc.”

Moreover, world slowly moves towards mobile and wearable computing, accessible at any time everywhere (Satyanarayanan, 2001). It could be markable growth in the pleasurable user experience, if integration of real world objects and digital world gives favourable outcomes (Olsson, et al., 2013). Augmented reality works on similar purpose combining digital information with real world places or objects (Berryman, 2012).  AR comes with capability to transform static entity like printed banner or newsletter into 3D immersive experience.

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AR concept is often misinterpreted and exchanged with virtual reality or virtual environment (Milgram & Kishino, 1994). Augmented reality and virtual reality both are modern trending concepts of mixed reality, which unify and integrate physical and virtual world objects providing reliable cooperation in it (Ohta & Tamura, 2014). AR and VR both are differently functioning technologies, where AR expands to the world so user would simply view it and enhance through computer-generated environment and VR totally immersing the people into artificial world (Furht, 2014). AR makes users to feel surrounding environment including sound effect within visualization, but requires additional tools synchronized with user’s 3-dimentional current geographical position (Pavlik & Bridges, 2013). Despite of enforcing real world objects into virtual world, AR supplement the digital information in real world (figure 1).

Figure 1?1 Mixed Reality Continuum (Milgram & Kishino, 1994)

Thus, AR saves users form being lost in artificial world without realization of actual time and location.

1.1         Problem definition and objectives

While technology becomes the requirement of marketing, the aim is to reach maximum customers implementing unique way of user engagement process which was unimagined before (Yaoyuneyong, et al., 2016). Technological growth has inherently reshaped global marketing industry and the way of advertising. Thus, marketers have constantly increased involvement technology. Though, global marketers always stepping up in the advanced technology, there is very less or no information available considering capabilities of newer technology in the market which leaves marketers to select strategies that rely on gut feelings instead of proofs (Yaoyuneyong, et al., 2016).

An increased on-demand marketing strategy extracting the possible capabilities of wearable devices and additional digital toolbox, named as Augmented Reality (Marshall, 2012). Through ARM, marketers achieve opportunity to provide real experience of their product at customer end which attracts customers to engage with this brand or product (Yaoyuneyong, et al., 2016).

Even Though AR provides entertainment and pleasurable experiential value (Bulearca & & Tamarjan, 2010), influence on customer attitude and purchase intension in marketing is not clear yet. This impact gives rise to the confusion in between marketers regarding whether AR is only capable as entertainment medium (Owyang, 2010) or can also implement as a marketing tools. Thus, it can be concluded that whether it could serve as an AR product for achieving more consumer engagement value or not. Like other new media types, AR can also be used as trending media type without focusing on possible outcomes at the end. But, few marketers consider the media type seriously, focusing that they don’t forget to transfer real meaning of messages (Leslie, 2016).

Many AR products have been implemented with e-commerce websites in the market before and became invisible within the time like try-on virtual rooms like zugara.com. The aim was to provide extended product information and experience. It seems very poor acceptance of AR technology by consumers. It is hard to decide whether it was the result due to poor implementation of technology or unawareness amongst consumers. Companies require to figure out how this technology could affect their current marketing strategy and help in enriching customers, before they actually start using AR products.

In a marketing, mostly current researches go on implementing delightful user shopping experience through virtual try-ons for garments or make-up inspired from “magic-mirror” experiment (Javornik, 2017) and user engagement and behaviour towards AR applications.

To implement any new strategy in the market, it is necessary for customers to understand what actually this feature does. If it is joined with any uncertainty of risks, it can influence customers’ loyalty and might be result in not trustable. Moreover, if brand fail to provide satisfaction to their users constantly and customer don’t feel any improvement in their preferred brand, it also end up losing their customer loyalty. On another side, if user can experience the available product in their hand, there is more chances of achieving customer trust value.

Through Augmented Reality, it seems to have an extended product experience at online and offline both stores. As online customers sometimes become the victim of cyber threats, they may influence towards offline shopping if they can get equal or better shopping experience and product quality at offline stores.

After all, consumers’ behaviour towards particular brand or product depends on brands’ design, interactive support, efforts for fulfilling consumers’ expectations and environment (Brakus, 2009). Thus, the goal of this paper is to explore previously unclear influencing factors of AR acceptance. Moreover, understand the sensation and behaviour of customers towards AR products and its impact on purchase decision.

1.2        Course of Investigation

First task of this research is to investigate the list of factors responsible for measuring effectiveness of AR applications in the marketing. The aim is to conclude which system gives better outcomes to enrich customers, system with AR technology or without AR implementation.

 

2          Impact of Augmented Reality on consumer purchase decision

This chapter is mainly divided into two subchapters. First part refers to few real world examples to explain how Augmented Reality is beneficial for business world. While second part shows most influencing factors for consumer behavior towards purchase intension considering responsible theoretical background.

2.1         Augmented reality as marketing strategy

Augmented reality is bringing the market with innovative and creative way of increasing customer involvement.

2.1.1       AR advertising

In consumer advertising, commonly used QR code added additional information for better product description but still it requires to enhance technology with more interactivity for target customers to reach competitive level (Sang & Kenneth, 2013). QR codes and AR both can be integrated to deliver additional details about product through QR codes and visualize it using digital assets.

Based on rich hypermedia ads, the comparison between traditional print ad, QR hypermedia print ad and AR hypermedia print ad was done by Yaoyuneyong et al. (2016). As a result, ARH print ad proved as better ad success in terms of time-saving, overall representation and quality. Although user has to use smart device for accessing information, they preferred AR option as time and efforts saving which provides experience of thigs behind print ads. Furthermore, using this observation it was recognised that informativeness and interactive environment are influencing factors for the customer’s behaviour against product and brand while entertainment looks like effective factor for two dimensional advertisement.

As, QR code was not built for advertisement purpose, which makes it unclear about usage and their customers are not able to utilizing the technology (Cummings, 2011). It is ending up with less customer acceptance because of confusion and irritation created amongst customers. Thus, QR is going away from advertising without any effective contribution. (Stratten, 2014)

2.1.2        AR shopping experience

It involves direct product experience and interaction for consumers. According to Lu and Smith (2007), traditional e-commerce is not able to deliver enough information about product which ends up receiving high product return requests.

Currently, MasterCard  (2017) unveiled about the new AR experience with MasterCard allows users to view all products digitally in the physical store. Additionally, it provides on the spot recommendation or other additional information by learning from user’s buying behaviour which was not available in the in-store before. At time of payment, it connects to MasterCard-enabled wallets through Qualcomm Technologies’ iris authentication. User can select the card for payment and directly pay via clicking on Masterpass button.

On another side, there are also real world applications available to enhance online shopping experience like “Webcam Social Shopper (WSS)”. This application was launched for web on zugara.com (2009). It enables their users to try on apparel items virtually using webcam which works as a digital mirror. Moreover, through various gesture actions users are allowed to browse more varieties or take the picture and share with friends. This unique shopping experience can increase the confidence of users towards buying decisions. As a result, it overcomes the conversion rate and return rates.

2.2         Differentiating factors for online and offline purchases

Generally, there are several influencing factors for online purchasing behaviour of consumers. But, this section has covered only significant factors which are responsible for diverting flow of consumers towards offline or online purchase.

2.2.1        Technology-oriented

According to first perspective, online consumers always have to deal with technology based platform for viewing or buying the products. The physical stores have been converted into e-commerce website providing various online services which leads to technical issues sometimes. Thus, few customers hesitate to use complex technology and find offline purchases in an easier way.

On positive side, e-commerce uses number of advanced technology-oriented features to provide convenience, effort-less and effective shopping experience. Since a long time, research is going on how consumers react at the time of shopping like how they are searching for the product details and how can utilize technology to provide useful information (II & Talarzyk, 1993; Thorelli & Engledow, 1980). After the invention of internet and online electronic stores, this study has given rise to investigate consumer’s purchase intention at online. Online consumers also focus on usability, hedonic and functional value of technology instead of only influential value (L.Childers, et al., 2001; Heijden, 2003).

Although, technology can deliver supportive results, the consumer purchase intention and acceptance depend on how beneficial the technology fits to the market need. Thus, technology acceptance model is used to investigate suitability of AR technology in marketing and understand actual acceptance and user intension.

2.2.1.1       Human Computer Interaction

Basically, this model focusing on impact of “Computer Technology” in individual’s routine life in term of simplifying their workload (Dix, 2009). As current technology has transformed computer screen up to small smart devices like wearable gadgets and embedded sensors, this study recently focusing on how to provide delightful user experience using interactive, easy-to-use and user effective interface according to his theory.

This research covers contribution from various domain such as Artificial Intelligence, psychological theories and design principles. Integration of Cognitive psychological methodologies into HCI can provide the assumptions about consumer behavior. The goal of this study is to provide extended user experience in terms of utilizing usability and usefulness of the technology (Nickerson & Landauer, 1997).

2.2.1.2       Technology Acceptance Model

Davis (1989) has introduced the expanded version of the theory of reasoned action (Ajzen & Fishbein, 1980) as TAM which defines the roles of belief, attitude, intention and behaviour towards use of technology and acceptance by customers. TAM comes up with two beliefs that perceived ease-of-use and perceived usefulness decide the attitude of consumers towards technology. It influences consumer’s intension to use it and get positive or negative responses from users in return (Davis, et al., 1989).

Within the time, TAM has been extended to TAM3 enlarging two beliefs with antecedent construct concerning use of the technology (Venkatesh & Bala, 2008). Later on, Haugstvedt and Krogstie (2012) identified the importance of enjoyment in AR acceptance model through addition of enjoyment factor in their proposed AR acceptance model for culture heritage applications.

 

Figure 2?1 Technology Acceptance Model 3 (Venkatesh & Bala, 2008)

2.2.2       Consumer trust oriented

Secondly, the most important influencing factor in e-commerce is “Consumer Trust” which has large impact on consumer’s purchase intention due to internet security (McKnight, et al., 2002). Perceptions of internet risk and uncertainty can be reduced through achieved trust value (Gefen & Straub, 2004). This trust value motivates users to believe in vendors’ website or advertisement prior to purchase of the product.

Nowadays, lots of e-commerce website available providing similar services. To increase the amount of customers they always apply new features of attracting customers. Thus, customer make choices towards particular product or brand based on trust obtained through reputation of product or brand in the market or previous experiences with services such as quality of services, ease-of-use and usefulness of the system (Casaló, et al., 2008). As Chinese e-commerce market held the vast number of online customers over the years, this experiment has been performed on Chinese customers’ purchase intention (Li, et al., 2007). Results indicated relationship between trust and purchase intention has impact of other independent influencing factors. On another side, offline stores are also improving customer purchasing experience to stay in this competitive world. Somehow, if they can provide informativeness, customized and immediate solutions to improved shopping experience in physical stores, it could be possible to divert online customers towards offline purchases. And customers would feel free from worrying about quality of products as well.

2.2.2.1      Trust – building Model

TBM model indicates the influencing factors which vendor can use to build up customer trust even customers are unfamiliar with that e-commerce. Perceived vendor website quality and perceived reputation in the market are two prior influencing factors to the customer trust towards vendor (McKnight, et al., 2002). According to their theory, when consumer uses vendor website for the first time, consumer creates one imaginary impression of that e-commerce in their mind based on initial experience with site appreance. This positive or negative impression decides whether they will purchase something from this vendor in the future or not.

TBM says, consumers based on cognitive-emotional trust pursue the advice given by vendor, share details with vendor and invest to buy from that website. Thus, consumers’ behaviour against any e-commerce mainly depends on the obtained trust.

Figure 2?2 Trust – building Model for online vendor (McKnight, et al., 2002)

2.2.2.2      Knowledge objects and mental models

It refers to research on how human acquires information from described knowledge schema (Merrill, 2000). The way human transform information into knowledge in human computer interaction is based on how well it is structured and designed on a display screen. The research on HCI concentrates on mental models, which represents users’ knowledge regarding how system actually operates, communicate and various parts inside influence each other.

When user communicate with computers, the representation and interactivity of information has impact on the elements of mental model. It is crucial for designers to put enough graphics and other design-oriented components that can covey the actual concept of the system to mental models. Moreover, it is capable to create influence on users’ models.

2.3         Attention & Memory

These models give information over how human interprets information and creates an impression of it in their mind (Logan & D., 2002). In todays’ competitive race, the decision customer makes in between list of similar services is crucial to understand. It influences the findings from human computer interaction in the terms of visualization of user interface while testing. These models can participate in the design phase to indicate which features and type of information should be included or what kind of representation should consider in user interface.

The memories attached with past experience reconstruct the mental models using users’ behaviour and routine activities to memorise instead of direct commit to memory when the event is happening (Bartlett, 1932). Thus, if system interface is designed in a same way as a human information processing works, the platform can be easily adapted by consumers due to easy-to-handle mechanism and convincing interface. The new technology should integrate with traditional interface representations which provide opportunities for users to use advanced features through familiar interaction methods.