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Title: Investigating visitors' behavioural response to Virtual Reality (VR) retail environments
Author: Moorehouse, Natasha
ISNI:       0000 0004 9346 9659
Awarding Body: Manchester Metropolitan University
Current Institution: Manchester Metropolitan University
Date of Award: 2019
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This thesis aimed to explore the influence of Virtual Reality (VR) retail environment cues on visitors’ behavioural intentions in the context of urban shopping destinations. The Stimulus-Organism-Response (S-O-R) theory (Mehrabian and Russell, 1974) were employed as a theoretical foundation given that many researchers have provided substantial evidence on its suitability as a theoretical framework to investigate the effects of various physical and virtual (online/mobile) retail environment cues on human behaviour through the mediating variables of affective and cognitive states. The first step to achieving the aim was to determine the current state of knowledge surrounding this topic. Therefore, relevant literature over four key topic areas was critically reviewed including 1) urban place marketing, particularly within the broader context of urban tourism, 2) retail store environment literature extending to electronic and mobile commerce research, 3) immersive technology, and 4) technology adoption (Objective 1). Then, primary data were collected in two research phases. Research Phase 1 entailed two sets of semi-structured interviews. First, a contrasting case-based approach was employed, and interviews were conducted with seven urban place marketers from three urban place marketing organisations in four urban shopping destinations in the UK (Objective 2). The findings provided initial insights into urban place marketers’ views on the perceived barriers, benefits, internal organisational capability and external pressures associated with immersive technology (VR and Augmented Reality) implementation and their overall intention to adopt these innovative technologies for city marketing. This data was analysed using thematic analysis and four themes and eleven sub-themes emerged including three new context-specific sub-themes (technology access, organisational readiness and industry readiness). Based on these findings, twelve semi-structured interviews with visitors to Manchester City Centre were gathered and aimed to draw out context-specific themes and sub-themes. This data was also analysed using thematic analysis and overall, three themes and thirteen sub-themes emerged including four new sub-themes (virtual aesthetics, virtual atmospherics, social presence and layout design) under the main theme of VR retail environment cues. Accordingly, ten hypotheses were proposed and informed the development of a qualitative VR Visitor Behaviour Model based on S-O-R theory. The aim of Research Phase 2 was to validate the proposed model (Objective 3). To achieve this, survey data were gathered from 150 potential visitors to urban shopping destinations and the data were analysed using Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modelling (PLS-SEM) (Objective 3). From these findings, a final VR Visitor Behaviour S-O-R Model was proposed, which is the main contribution of this study (Objective 4). The thesis concludes by outlining the theoretical contributions of this research and providing guidance to urban place marketers and VR developers and designers. Finally, avenues for further research based on the identified study limitations are offered.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available