Purpose – The aim of this study is to investigate the effects of different virtual product experiences (VPEs, interpersonal and machine) on sense of virtual community (SOVC) for consumers. Furthermore, parasocial interaction (PSI) and the sequence of VPEs likely moderate the relationship between different combinations of VPEs and SOVC. Design/methodology/approach – The study employed a factorial online experimental design: 8 (combinations of VPEs, between subjects) x 2 (sequences of VPEs, between subjects). Participants were randomly assigned to the 16 groups. Findings – The results show that with a high degree of PSI, the “escapism + social” VPEs group has the greatest beneficial effects on SOVC, whereas with a low degree of PSI, the “aesthetics + information” VPEs group has the greatest beneficial effects on SOVC. Besides, in VPES sequence 1 (interpersonal → machine), the “escapism + social” VPEs group has a greater effect on SOVC, whereas in sequence 2 (machine → interpersonal), there was no statistically significant difference for VPEs combinations relative to SOVC. Practical implication – This study determines that consumers with different degrees of PSI differ from one another regarding their interactions with web sites and communities. Therefore, the characteristics of PSI provide manufacturers with various marketing strategies for interaction. The combinations and sequences of interpersonal and machine VPEs in this study can provide manufacturers with suggestions for appropriate online shopping web site design. Originality/value – Although the importance of these virtual experiences is continuously increasing, there is still a lack of studies that empirically analyze from the combinations of machine interaction and interpersonal interaction of VPEs of the effects on consumer behavior.
Internet Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jan 1, 2011
Keywords: Virtual product experience; Parasocial interaction; Sense of virtual community; Virtual worlds; Consumers; Internet
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