In tema di... Marketing and Retail

Technologies are transforming the boundaries of shopping, creating new experiences for consumers. Some technologies, such as voice-activated assistants, incorporate human characteristics, such as the ability to respond emphatically. These characteristics challenge the boundaries of knowledge by introducing the concept of anthropomorphism.

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. This is evident in the design of voice-activated assistants, which are designed to respond in a manner that is perceived as human.

The following two contributions aim to investigate the impacts of two different technologies on human interaction: chatbots and virtual influencers.


(PAPER): Tsekouras, D., Gutt, D., & Heimbach, I. (2024). The robo bias in conversational reviews: How the solicitation medium anthropomorphism affects product rating valence and review helpfulness. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 1-22.

Companies are increasingly introducing conversational reviews—reviews solicited via chatbots—to gain customer feedback. However, little is known about how chatbot-mediated solicitation influences rating valence and review helpfulness compared to conventional online forms. Therefore, the authors conceptualized these review solicitation media on the continuum of anthropomorphism and investigated how various levels of anthropomorphism affect rating valence and review helpfulness, showing that more anthropomorphic media lead to more positive and less helpful reviews. They found that moderate levels of anthropomorphism lead to increased interaction enjoyment, and high levels increase social presence, thus inflating the rating valence and decreasing review helpfulness. Further, the effect of anthropomorphism remains robust across review solicitors’ salience (sellers vs. platforms) and expressed emotionality in conversations. This study is among the first to investigate chatbots as a new form of technology to solicit online reviews, providing insights to inform various stakeholders of the advantages, drawbacks, and potential ethical concerns of anthropomorphic technology in customer feedback solicitation.


(PAPER): Dabiran, E., Farivar, S., Wang, F., & Grant, G. (2024). Virtually human: anthropomorphism in virtual influencer marketing. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 79, 103797.

Virtual influencers (VIs), digitally created characters with a significant presence on social media, are progressively engaged to promote products and brands. Understanding the impact of these influencers' anthropomorphic design is crucial to their marketing effectiveness. Drawing from anthropomorphism literature, this research evaluates the effect of four types of anthropomorphism—namely, appearance, moral virtue, cognitive experience, and conscious emotionality—on followers' perceptions of VI credibility and parasocial relationships, as well as their purchase intention. The results of a survey reveal that anthropomorphism in moral virtue and cognitive experience has a positive effect on both credibility and parasocial relationships, while anthropomorphism in appearance has a positive effect only on parasocial relationships. Anthropomorphism in conscious emotionality has no significant effect. Both credibility and parasocial relationships have a positive effect on purchase intention, with the impact of parasocial relationships being stronger. Influencer–product congruence positively moderates the impact of credibility on purchase intention. The study advances the understanding of VI Marketing and underscores the importance of considering the different aspects of anthropomorphism and their impacts on followers’ perceptions and behaviour. The findings inform business strategy and decision-making in developing and promoting VI marketing campaigns.

June 2024