How Does Consumer Psychology Influence Fashion Branding and Marketing in The Virtual World?
The fashion industry is among the biggest manufacturing companies globally. The industry produces billions of garments annually that require maximum sales for the practical sustainability of the industry. Thus, fashion brands constantly compete to have the best annual deals and look for branding approaches that attract more consumers. Fashion brands struggle to distinguish their brands and designs effectively to stay active in the market. Most fashion brands opt for consumer-psychological marketing to engage consumers’ emotions with their brands. Besides using the consumer’s emotions in branding and marketing, fashion brands need an effective marketing platform to reach the desired market. The introduction of technology is an excellent boost to the industry as it provides a variety of media for branding, such as online marketing using virtual programs.
The virtual world enables consumers to share information about fashion brands’ products and services through online reviews and discussions. Since many consumers use the internet to purchase products nowadays, the virtual world plays a significant role in influencing the consumers’ minds on a brand. More fashion brands embrace virtual applications in psychological marketing since it provides maximum target market coverage and gives feedback on its product and services. Through emotional psychology, fashion brands offer virtual services that engage the consumers’ emotions and feelings towards the particular brand. Consumer communication influences the behaviors and emotions on specific brands in the fashion industry. This paper discusses how consumer psychology enhances the marketing and branding of fashion brands in the virtual world by reviewing existing literature and analyzing consumer feedback from various research sources on the topic.
Today’s competitive market in the fashion industry challenges marketing strategies to get the attention of more consumers. Using consumer psychology to attract brand sales is a technique that most fashion companies use to promote sales in the virtual world. The study of consumer psychology in marketing refers to a customer’s emotional and cognitive response to a particular brand or product (Porowska, 2018). Understanding the psychological theory helps marketers develop virtual programs that implore consumers’ emotions. Virtual reality is among the online interactive tools most brands use to create an emotional appeal to online consumers (Wei, 2019). Since most of the world’s population has access to the internet, fashion brands need a fast and attractive online marketing strategy that can help in boosting sales in the competitive world (Mohammad, 2018). The success of fashion brands depends on how well they can use consumer psychology in adapting marketing strategies in the virtual world.
Virtual reality programs are computer applications that connect people to different worlds through online interactions (Wei, 2019). A virtual system can take an individual to another city or imaginary world, such as underwater or in a fashion runway show. The fashion industry uses virtual reality to provide consumers with virtual mirrors an avatar for fitting different kinds of clothing. Consumers can choose an outfit, try it on, and admire the outcome without visiting the actual store.
The main objective of this study is to analyze how fashion brands are using virtual reality to convert customers through emotional psychology. The study identifies the interaction between virtual reality and consumers during online shopping to understand how consumers use the technology. Secondly, the study identifies various psychological theories of human behaviors and their influence on virtual reality marketing and designing fashion brands. Finally, the study will determine how consumers view virtual reality as an online shopping experience. This study is vital to consumers and fashion brands embracing the virtual world as a tool for online interactions and purchases.
Consumers and Virtual Technology
Fashion brands need to understand how consumers interact with the virtual world during online shopping activities to help in identifying the most effective virtual tools. Consumer psychology is complex and changes with time. Therefore, marketers need to recognize what motivates online consumers when choosing to purchase goods online to develop a system that attracts and maintains consumers’ interests. Scholars recommend using virtual technology since it contains interactive forums for consumers that help identify their emotional trends (Zhang, 2021). According to Yan (2018), consumer-to-consumer feedback allows the branding team to offer products and services according to the customers’ preferences. Thaichon et al. (2020) agree with the design of virtual reality, which gives a sense of being there for consumers that, is important for the consumers’ experience while shopping online. Virtual reality engages the consumers’ psychology to the technological aspects that gain many online users’ attention Zhang, 2021). Thus, virtual reality focuses on engaging consumers personally, giving a sense of presence in the online market.
Theories of Psychological Marketing
The personalization effects of virtual reality are another field that marketing strategists consider significant in providing good customer experiences. According to (New Global Research, 2020), virtual reality gives consumers personal recommendations and a sense of existence and privilege. Virtual reality provides shopping assistance through avatars (Zhang, 2021), promoting sales and interactive activities such as fitting the recommended clothes and accessories. Additionally, avatar assistants offer personal alternative and complementary recommendations through mining data from various sources, expanding consumers’ knowledge about the brands. According to (New Global Research, 2020), this helps enhance the consumers’ online shopping experience since it would give a sensation of the real world. Pierre-Antoine & Mougenot (2019) agrees with the New Global Research assumption that mining data from different sources can lead to more virtual interactions among consumers and increase product experience in the virtual world.
Avatars also offer alternative and complementary fashion designs and accessories that allow consumers to choose from various options. The other options include providing brand products according to the customer preferences, such as color, design, or pricing (Zhang, 2021). Therefore, virtual reality enhances a customer’s online experience by providing personal services through avatar assistance which offers the same help as actual sales assistants in physical stores.
Another aspect of virtual reality that marketing scholars consider effective in attracting customers’ emotions is the sensorial enrichment in online shopping. Virtual reality enhances consumer experiences by building trust and creating positive perceptions about a fashion brand. Oiyan & Chung-Wha (2021) state that since avatar models can speak, they can impact consumers’ emotions by building brand trust during interactions. Research shows that customers who interact with avatars have more knowledge and expertise in brand products and decision-making (Duong et al., 2020). Besides building confidence and knowledge about brands, virtual reality also provides a good impression of the store’s layout, enriching the consumers’ sensation about a brand.
The design and layout of a retail store are significant in persuading and converting customers to a particular brand. Virtual reality helps fashion stores design stores that attract consumers to the brand. Retail stores need attractive layouts to gain the customers’ attention and sensation. Xue et al. (2020) state that virtual reality is the best tool for creating stunning and realistic online stores. Virtual reality helps provide specific colors and three-dimensional images of stores that provoke a consumer’s feelings towards the brand. According to (Zhang 2021), stores with beautiful visual effects have more visits because colors are more appealing to the cognitive sense of consumers. Consequently, (Xue et al., 2020) argue that attractive graphical images and arrangement of clothes and accessories give consumers a feeling of familiarity with a particular brand.
Virtual reality has control systems that enable consumers to walk through various store sectors and pick virtual items, which significantly impacts the consumers’ experience. The spatial operation allows consumers to feel safe and unique when walking alone in a store with exquisite fashion brands (New Global Research, 2020). Additionally, virtual reality uses three-dimensional characters, which induces various spatial experiences when shopping online. According to (Xue et al., 2020), spatial store layouts provoke different emotions from consumers, determining their actions during decision-making. Virtual reality also caters to gender differences during shopping through spatial operation preferences. Although Oiyan & Chung-Wha (2021) argues that gender differences are insignificant in online shopping, Endres (2021) states that providing gender-based options builds trust and confidence in a brand.
Virtual reality enables consumers to interact with each other through discussions, reviews, and one on one feedback. Different online marketing strategies, such as online videos, effectively advertise products but do not provide interactive experiences among consumers (Umunna, 2021). Three-dimensional spatial spaces give a feeling of social connection with the rest of the world since the images and visuals provide an almost natural set-up of the physical store (Cowan & Ketron, 2019). Consumers connect by creating stories using avatars and exchanging experiences and recommendations. Interacting virtually with people who share the same interests enhances customers’ experiences and decision-making during online shopping. Most online fashion shoppers use virtual reality to interact with other customers and view their comments regarding a product.
This study uses a qualitative research design from various secondary data sources. The sources include journals, newspapers, websites, online reviews, and data records from different fashion brands. The research will help discover consumers’ feedback regarding virtual reality and a shopping aid for clothes and accessories. The feedback will assist in analyzing the impact of consumer experiences through three hypotheses. The first hypothesis states that virtual reality promotes social proof, enhancing positive consumer experiences. The second hypothesis assumes that reciprocity methods in virtual reality influence consumer experience in and enable fashion brands. Finally, the third hypothesis states that virtual stores promote positive customer experiences by imploring their emotions and cognitive aspects.
Hypothesis 1: Fashion brands provide social proof in virtual reality, which enhances the consumer experience
The social proof theory states that consumers need proof of social existence to make decisions. The idea is based on the assumption that consumers act according to the influence of other people in their social circle (Porowska, 2018). Research on consumer emotional behaviors indicates that most shoppers imitate the decisions of other shoppers in the same cultural, economic or social process (Kim, 2019). Consumers demonstrate their social proof in online shopping by buying more positive reviews of items.
Consumers also tend to purchase products online by reviewing the brands’ popularity among particular communities. According to Ying-Kai et al. (2020), most online consumers follow trends and product popularity during decisions making to avoid the risks of buying faulty or low-quality products. In the case of virtual marketing, fashion brands use the same psychological concept in marketing products through virtual reality. Marketing in virtual reality enables consumers to provide direct feedback to one another, enhancing the customers’ experience and decision-making during a purchase. Consumers prefer browsing products in virtual reality because it uses real-life spatial expertise to engage and interact with customers directly, unlike other online marketing strategies that do not offer direct interaction.
The development of model avatars that offer sales assistance also provides social proof because they can assist with customer needs and recommendations. Avatars inform customers of the number of views a product has, its availability in the store, and how many people have bought the item so far. Spatial avatars act like sales representatives in the real world, and consumers feel the existence of a shopping partner in the digital world. Findings from reviews show that people prefer the assistance of virtual avatars to humanitarian aid. This is because they are more friendly and trustworthy in offering recommendations since they do not have a social or cultural bias (Trabelsi-Zoghlami & Touzani, 2019). Since virtual reality engages people in community discussions, giving feedback and following product sales trends in a community is easier. Through virtual reality, fashion brands convert more customers through consumer-to-consumer interactions in the virtual world. Since virtual reality provides visual images in three dimensions, more people tend to view the products even if they are not buying, promoting consumer conversion.
In a study investigating the influence of social proof on the virtual marketing of garments, findings indicate that virtual reality enhances consumer decisions through direct interaction with people of the same community. Consequently, Arnaldi et al. (2018) agree that fashion brands using community discussion forums in the virtual world have more sales due to social existence among consumers with the same interests. The control systems in virtual reality help people create personal avatars that enhance the shopping experience through interactive engagements such as walking in different worlds. Generally, most findings indicate that consumers like the social existence of virtual reality while shopping for clothes and accessories online.
Hypothesis 2: Reciprocity methods in virtual reality enhances the consumer experience and fashion branding
Reciprocity is a principle of consumer persuasion through emotional psychology. The theory states that people usually reciprocate good things, such as giving good feedback when receiving better customer service experiences or gifts. The principle is based on the assumption that more begets more. For example, gifting shoppers valuable items can compel them to purchase more as a return favor. Findings indicate that Fashion brands using the reciprocity approach in the virtual world win more customers and increase consumer conversions (Su et al., 2020). Virtual reality gives convincing offers to consumers, which provoke reciprocating emotion. For instance, virtual reality provides avatars that can fit clothes and accessories before purchase. According to consumer feedback, avatars come in various shapes, sizes, and colors that fit their specifications during virtual fittings. Apart from fitting, consumers state that avatars offer personalized recommendations according to their preferences, such as matching color shades and providing complementary accessories to particular clothing.
Other services include tutorials such as dress according to occasions and different ways an individual can dress depending on the event. Findings on women’s responses regarding the effectiveness of avatar assistance indicate that the virtual experience with avatars fitting clothes before purchasing online is gratifying in matching colors and accessories during shopping (Su et al. 2020). Most women also state that virtual reality is the most effective way of online shopping since they can create avatars to their specifications, enabling perfect fittings. Shopping online is a thrill because consumers can watch the various fashion tutorials and purchase an item later after the decision-making process.
Hypothesis 3: Consumer experience in virtual stores affects their emotions
Fashion brands attract consumers through distinct shopping experiences in virtual reality. Virtual reality helps clothes brands create a perfect store layout according to the consumers’ preferences. Virtual reality has tools that offer real-time experiences of the digital world. The tools stimulate a consumer’s mind by inducing different spatial experiences different from reality (Krasonikolakis et al., 2018). Using spatial tools in creating store layouts promotes an atmosphere related to the physical world. Three-dimensional images, videos, and avatar assistants arouse the consumers’ stimuli towards brands more than two-dimensional videos and other literature used in online advertising.
The findings of this research relate to earlier literature regarding the consumer’s psychological influence in designing store layouts in virtual reality. According to the literature, control systems allow consumers to have spatial walkthroughs in virtual stores, enhancing their experience in different worlds (Krasonikolakis et al., 2018). The findings also state that virtual reality provides a feeling of familiarity with the store and brand product regardless of whether a consumer is familiar with the product physically. Since familiarity encourages consumers to make decisions during a purchase, fashion brands using virtual reality to create store layouts offer the best shopping experiences online.
Consumers with color preferences indicate that virtual reality has good visuals and color combinations, instantly attracting their attention. Further findings suggest that virtual reality stores arouse the pleasant emotions of consumers, which enhances more purchases (Su et al. 2020). Earlier studies indicate that spatial movement in virtual stores contributes to positive feedback among consumers since they have the privilege of walking in prestigious brand stores. Positive feedback from consumers includes positive words such as fantastic experience, cool colors, incredible layout, and enjoying the shopping experience on reviews and consumer-to-consumer forums. Thus, fashion brands should use virtual reality to design their stores’ structure to have more sales and views of their stores online.
Implications of the Research
This research is beneficial to researchers in both the academic and branding fields in the fashion industries. The study on consumer psychology helps identify human behaviors that marketing strategies can capitalize on to improve sales. The study can help marketers develop virtual tools that invoke the consumers’ psychological senses and enhance online shopping experiences. Academically, the research is informative to students and scholars pursuing fashion and virtual branding in the global market to achieve maximum competitiveness.
Ethical and Cultural Considerations of the Research
This research is valid as it contains information from credible sources. The sources are available for public use, and all research information has in-text citing, which identify the source of information. Researchers can use the references for further studies or find proof of the data. The research involves studies among large populations that do not provide specific identities or cultures. Therefore, this study does not risk violating people’s privacy or socio-cultural biases.
Consumer psychology impacts the type and development of virtual programs in marketing fashion brands. Using psychological marketing in the virtual world, fashion brands must adopt specific tools that attract consumers’ emotions. Psychological aspects that marketers consider when developing virtual tools include social proof, personalized services, persuasion architecture, and tools for building trust. In this study, consumer behaviors shape the concepts of virtual branding to suit their preferences and enhance online shopping experiences. Consumer feedback indicates that designing virtual programs according to human beings’ emotional and cognitive ability effectively markets the fashion brand by creating more attention to the clothes, virtual store, and accessories. The use of virtual reality provides social existence and builds trust in particular brands because of personalized services such as model avatars. Consumers state that model avatars are more trustworthy than actual sales representatives because they give honest reviews and recommendations on the designs. Through virtual reality, consumers can publish ideas and opinions and exchange thoughts and feelings toward specific fashion brands and designs. The spatial walkthrough in virtual stores enables consumers to explore fashion brands that may be inaccessible physically due to restrictions on the social status of privacy policies. Thus, consumers feel privileged in virtual stores, which encourages more shopping and customer conversion in the retail world. Generally, most consumer feedback states that they use virtual reality because it implores their feelings and sensations, which enhances their shopping experience online.
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