Seeing is believing: Enhancing the customer experience with augmented reality

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisInternal

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To provide customers with a more compelling experience, many firms have
begun to deploy augmented reality (AR) as a frontline technology. However,
managers and customers alike remain skeptical whether firms are currently
exploiting the full potential of AR. This presents a need for a better understanding
of the value creation processes that underlie AR-enabled customer
experiences. However, current literature offers little guidance; research has
yet to adequately describe how AR might enhance experiences and facilitate
decision making throughout the customer journey. In this dissertation, I
address this research gap in three distinct manuscripts.

In the first manuscript, “Making omnichannel an augmented reality”, my
co-authors and I review previously published research and currently deployed
applications to provide a roadmap for future research efforts on ARenabled
experiences across the customer journey. On the basis of situated
cognition theorizing, we demonstrate that AR offers myriad opportunities to
provide customers with a seamless omnichannel journey, smoothing current
obstacles, through a unique combination of i) embedded, ii) embodied,
and iii) extended customer experiences. These three principles constitute the
overarching value drivers of AR and offer coherent, theory-driven organizing
principles for managers and researchers.

In the second manuscript, “Augmenting the eye of the beholder”, my coauthors
and I demonstrate that AR enables firms to enhance the online service
experience by pursuing a strategy of service augmentation. In a series
of studies (n = 1,033) with the AR applications of L’Oreal and Mister Spex, we
provide evidence that AR-based service augmentation promotes effective
and enjoyable online shopping by i) allowing customers to embed online
offerings into their personal environments, and ii) simulating a sense of physical
control over these offerings. We show that this effect is due to a feeling of
spatial presence, where customers perceive their interactions with virtual
offerings as “real”. Spatial presence also increases customers’ comfort with
their online purchase decisions. Finally, we identify two important boundary
conditions to the aforementioned effects: the effect of spatial presence on
perceptions of effective online shopping is greater for customers who prefer
verbal rather than visual information processing, and the positive effect on
decision comfort is attenuated by customers’ privacy concerns.

In the third manuscript, “Seeing eye to eye”, my co-authors and I draw on
socially situated cognition theory to explain how social AR scaffolds decision
making by customers in a recommender–decision maker dyad. In a series of
studies (n = 1,031) with Akzo Nobel’s Visualizer application, we demonstrate
that optimal configurations of (static or dynamic) sharing formats and
(speech-only or image-enhanced) illocutionary acts, as enabled by social
AR, promote recommendation comfort, and in turn, shape actual choice
behavior. To translate the experience of scaffolding into comfort and
choice, we find that both recommenders and decision makers must experience
a sense of social empowerment. We also identify two relevant boundary
conditions. In detail, we show that the effect of social empowerment on
comfort is weaker when recommenders have a strong impression management
goal. Furthermore, the effect of social empowerment on decision
makers’ actual choices is attenuated by the strength of a recommender’s
persuasion goal.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Maastricht University
  • de Ruyter, K., Supervisor
  • Mahr, Dominik, Co-Supervisor
  • Keeling, D., Co-Supervisor, External person
  • Chylinksi, M., Co-Supervisor, External person
Award date7 Sept 2018
Place of PublicationMaastricht
Print ISBNs9789493019454
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • Marketing
  • Customer Experience
  • Augmented Reality
  • Situated cognition
  • Socially situated cognition
  • Digital marketing
  • consumer behavior
  • consumer choice
  • decision making
  • Customer journey


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