University of Oulu

Understanding VR/AR in marketing & sales for B2B: an explorative study

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Author: Ghafel, Kawtar1; Mohammed, Omar1
Organizations: 1University of Oulu, Oulu Business School, Department of Marketing, Marketing
Format: ebook
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.5 MB)
Pages: 143
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Oulu : K. Ghafel; O. Mohammed, 2020
Publish Date: 2020-06-24
Thesis type: Master's thesis
Tutor: Nadeem, Waqar
Reviewer: Juga, Jari
Nadeem, Waqar


The research explored the impact of immersive reality technologies, particularly VR and AR, in marketing and sales for the B2B sector. Study interests were fuelled by both an industrial hype and vehement investments on these technologies, especially in the last five years. However, the potential of these technologies is still unexplored and widely misunderstood by businesses as the innovations are slowly taking off. Additionally, existing literature showed a need to clearly define various simulated realities in the continuum, including VR and AR, as well as a general misunderstanding of the potential of immersive reality technologies, and a shortage of studies covering holistically different VR/AR applications in marketing, especially for the B2B sector.

Therefore, this research aims to bridge the gap between managerial and academic’ understanding by providing a holistic framework explaining the impact of immersive reality technologies in B2B marketing and sales and provide a clear distinction between VR and AR in the Virtuality-reality continuum. This research also aims to assist marketers and managers in embracing these technologies to better meet the needs of future generations. The study adopted a qualitative exploratory approach allowing researchers to gain an in-depth understanding of the topic from an industrial perspective. The study used an abductive thematic analysis approach to analyse empirical results and ten semi-structured interviews with eleven VR/AR providers for primary data collection. Results were structured based on four main themes, namely: VR and AR definitions, customer technology adoption factors, VR/AR impact and applications on B2B marketing, and last, VR/AR impact on sales performance outcomes.

This study contributes to the existing literature by proposing a tentative definition for each terminology “VR” and “AR” separately that merges academic perspectives and industry insights. Overall, empirical study suggests that immersive reality technologies can affect both marketing activities and sales performance outcomes for the B2B sector. However, successfully embracing these technologies calls for collaboration to overcome financial, technical and social barriers while also enhancing aspects like the user experience to step out of the still immature VR/AR market. VR and AR together have an impact on marketing for B2B by enhancing customization, non-verbal communication, learning and experiential marketing while also creating memorable experiences that stick in the minds of the consumer. Concerning the customer’s purchasing journey, this study extends existing literature to cover all customer purchasing stages, including the pre-purchase, purchase and post-purchase. Results emphasize the pre-purchase phase as the most impacted by immersive reality technologies, followed by post-purchase and purchase stages, respectively. Finally, this study suggests that the use of VR/AR as sales support tools can yield positive efficiency returns through higher task performance and a reduction in sales-related costs, and positive effectiveness returns through greater customer and social engagement, stronger collaborative business relationships and the enhancement of proactive (sales planning) and reactive (adaptive selling) behaviours in the sales process.

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Copyright information: © Kawtar Ghafel; Omar Mohammed, 2020. This publication is copyrighted. You may download, display and print it for your own personal use. Commercial use is prohibited.