Consumer learning and the effects of virtual experience relative to indirect and direct product experience.

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Publication Date

Fall 2008


The Internet has the ability to serve as a more powerful medium than traditional print or broadcast media because consumers are able to interact with products in 3D multimedia environments, thus simulating a new form of experience—a virtual experience. However, very little research has explored the impact of this new type of experience, especially in combination with indirect (advertising) and direct (product trial) experience. Therefore, this study presents the findings from two laboratory experiments designed to empirically test both the single and sequential impact of consumer exposure to indirect, direct, and virtual experiences on brand attitude, product knowledge, and purchase intention when evaluating a digital video camcorder. The results indicate that exposure to a virtual experience preceding both indirect and direct product experience is more effective at influencing brand attitudes. The research proposition is that virtual experience from 3D product visualization is more similar to direct experience than to indirect experience in terms of consumer learning. Implications for business-to-consumer Internet marketing and e-commerce are discussed. © 2008 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.



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