Title: Personalisation of online avatars: is the messenger as important as the message?

Authors: Natalie T. Wood, Michael R. Solomon, Basil G. Englis

Addresses: Department of Marketing, The Haub School of Business, St. Joseph's University, 5600 City Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19131, USA. ' Department of Consumer Affairs, College of Human Sciences, 308 Spidle Hall, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849, USA. ' Campbell School of Business, Berry College, Mount Berry, GA 30149, USA

Abstract: In traditional media, the selection of an appropriate source for communication (such as a celebrity) is left in the hands of the advertiser who generally adopts a standardised spokesperson for an entire target market. Online, the opportunity now exists for this spokesperson to be personalised to suit individual consumers, through the use of avatars. This exploratory study investigates the potential functions and manifestations of avatars as well as consumer preference for avatars as a direct source of communication. Using a non-probability referral sample of college educated females (aged 18–30) from Southern California, preliminary findings revealed that empowering female consumers to select their own source of communication for online apparel shopping may offer a more effective way of developing persuasive messages.

Keywords: online avatars; personalisation; communication sources; spokesperson; e-commerce; internet advertising; persuasive communication; online advertsising; web advertising; electronic commerce; consumer preference; online shopping; apparel shopping; garment shopping; clothing shopping; internet shopping.

DOI: 10.1504/IJIMA.2005.007509

International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising, 2005 Vol.2 No.1/2, pp.143 - 161

Available online: 30 Jul 2005 *

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