Whether and How Virtual Try-On Influences Consumer Responses to an Apparel Web Site

Aurélie Merle, Sylvain Senecal, and Anik St-Onge
International Journal of Electronic Commerce,
Volume 16, Number 3, Spring 2012, pp. 41-64.

Abstract: Lack of direct experiential information is part of the explanation as to why only a small portion of apparel sales are performed online. To alleviate this problem, there are several forms of virtual experience that assist consumers in evaluating apparel online. Particularly significant among such virtual experiences are those facilitated by image interactivity technology (IIT). This paper focuses on one form of IIT, the “virtual try-on” (VTO), and analyzes whether and, if so, how using a virtual 3D model to try on clothes influences cognitive, affective, and conative responses to a retail Web site. Our comparison of personalized VTO with nonpersonalized VTO and mix-and-match technology in a laboratory-controlled environment shows that VTO does not lead to greater influence over consumer responses per se. We underline the utmost importance of model self-congruity and body esteem in increasing the impact of VTO on these responses. Hence, apparel Web sites proposing VTO, as well as companies providing these solutions, should focus on ways to efficiently maximize the perceived resemblance between the consumer and the model. By introducing body-related constructs such as body esteem and perceived model self-congruity, this study augments prior research on IIT by proposing and validating the underlying mechanism by which VTO influences consumer responses.

Key Words and Phrases: Apparel, body esteem, confidence in fit, consumer behavior, e-tail, image interactivity technology, mix-and-match, online shopping values, personalization, self-congruity, virtual try-on.