Technology is changing the way consumers and social marketers interact (Bernhardt, et al. 2012) and providing avenues for the use of avatars; human-like graphic representations personified via computer technology (Holzwarth, et al 2006). To date, the avatar literature has focused on the commercial context and on pleasurable behaviours; for instance gaming entertainment (Bailey, et al 2009) and internet shopping (Pentina & Taylor, 2010). However, avatars used for social marketing purposes differ from these contexts in that the aim is for consumers to perform less pleasurable behaviours such as exercise or recycling and for social good. To date there has been little investigation in a social marketing context about the use of avatars so this research seeks to explore the first step in the process of avatar use; the selection stage. Research in commercial marketing has provided useful insights as to the design features which create an effective and desired avatar by consumers, these include cues such as gender and attractiveness avatar (Bélisle & Bodur, 2010) however we do not know if consumers choose avatars for a social behaviour on the same basis as a commercial or entertainment purpose. With this in mind, the purpose of this paper is to investigate why consumers choose particular avatars within a social marketing program.
2016 International Social Marketing Conference (ISMC): Societal Wellbeing, Wollongong, Australia 26-27 September 2016
Proceedings of the 2016 International Social Marketing Conference / pp.In press