Anthropomorphism and augmented reality in the retail environment

Patrick van Esch, Denni Arli, Mahnaz Haji Gheshlaghi, Vicki Andonopoulos, Tania von der Heidt, Gavin Northey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The fourth industrial revolution is making possible augmented reality (AR), which has the potential, among other things, to alter profoundly the ways in which individuals purchase and consume goods. Yet despite significant growth in the AR industry, the impact of this technology on consumers and other stakeholders in the retail environment has been little explored. In particular, the influence of anthropomorphism on consumers’ perceptions of AR in the retail environment remains poorly understood. Specifically, randomly selected adults (n = 319) participated in a field based retail shopping experience using augmented reality on a mobile device, the findings presented here demonstrate that anthropomorphism indeed influences consumers’ experiences of AR and their attitudes toward brands that use it. This study therefore has important theoretical implications as well as practical implications for managers. We begin by elaborating a theory of anthropomorphism in the context of retail marketing that can account for consumers’ perceptions of AR in general. We then discuss how our findings can assist managers in the retail sector in leveraging the anthropomorphisation of AR as part of the effort to build effective relationships with their customers. Our findings further suggest that brands benefit when managers make AR a key part of the retail experience.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)35-42
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Retailing and Consumer Services
StatePublished - Jul 2019


  • Anthropomorphism
  • Augmented reality (AR)
  • Digital marketing

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