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MD4064 Designing a Research Project: Impact of Virtual Reality

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Topic- “Impact of virtual reality on consumer purchasing behaviour: Case Study of Fashion Industry”


The aim of this section of the module is to equip you to be able to plan and conduct a research project.

On completion of the module you will be able to;

  1. Demonstrate understanding of the different methodological approaches to research.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to devise a systematic and viable plan for management research.



The proposed study is considered to be carried out on the growing impact of virtual reality on consumer purchasing behaviour. It is certain that the excellent development of technological wave, in specific to virtual technology, has led shopping activities into a new era. The proposed study is determined to examine the relationship between consumer purchase behaviour and technology in diverse virtual environments in the context of fashion industry. On the basis of the scope of using virtual technology in shopping practices, the proposed study is supposed to investigates how customers tend to use virtual technology in shopping activities from reviewing the earlier studies of consumer behaviour as well as technological growth. The proposed study will include both secondary and primary analyses and the techniques of selection has been discussed in the report.

Significance of the research 

It has been identified that since the last decade technology has observed a sudden rapid growth due to the growing utilization in business. Businesses greatly implement virtual technology particularly in shopping practices to drive customers’ purchasing behaviour and attract customers’ attention. It is particularly identified that such relationship existing between virtual technology and consumers are intimately associated, due to the diverse shopping strategies in the virtual environments developed by the marketers. More specifically, Zhang et al. (2014) mentioned that due to the development of virtual technology marketers in the fashion industry have introduced the trend of online shopping, where the customers have the opportunity to access the massive collection of items, compare items and receive items at the doorstep. Therefore, it is necessary to learn how marketers use the virtual technology environment to influence purchasing habits of consumers and the factors that influence consumers to adopt the trend. The proposed study will particularly reveal how virtual technology creates the impact on consumers and find out the reasons why consumers in the fashion industry stop flocking at the outlet, instead prefer to do shopping by relaxing with a pillow at home.

Aim of the Research 

The proposed study aims to analyse the potential impact of virtual technology on consumer purchasing behaviour. Earlier researches confirm that consumers in fashion industry report the maximum use of maximum use of virtual technology when purchasing a cloth item. Therefore, the research focuses on the fashion industry.

Research Objectives 

In order to achieve the stated aim of the research, the following key objectives have been developed:

  • To investigate the relationship between the virtual reality and consumers’ shopping activities
  • To critically analyse the impact of virtual technology on consumer purchasing behaviour in the fashion industry
  • To identify the future direction for shopping practices in virtual world

Research Hypothesis 

  • H0- Virtual technology can influence the purchasing behaviour of consumers
  • H1- Virtual technology can influence the purchasing behaviour of consumers

Research Questions 

  • What relationship exists between the development of virtual technology and consumers’ shopping practices?
  • What impact does virtual technology create on consumers’ purchasing behaviour?

 Literature Review

Virtual Reality and Fashion industry

It is identified that the fashion industry has a long history of implementing technology to disrupt the norms as well as excite consumers. Rauschnabel et al. (2016) commented that technology could turn the fashion industry inside out. This study reveals the fact that the most obvious as well as successful collaboration of fashion and technology is the “wearable tech”. According to this author, the consumers are already fully invested but there was a period when they technically were not. Ciarnien? and Vienažindien? (2014) performed a study and found that virtual reality have mostly been implemented for the purpose of design but it is now gradually turning into a significant tool to influence the consumers.

As put forward by 'Avolio,  Bandinelli and Rinaldi (2015), technology has developed a lot since the decades but closets have greatly been by untouched by innovation. In the context of virtual environment, Sinclair (2014) mentioned that digital media is changing the manners people approach to styling, which means that people no longer depend on shopping malls to ship and figure out what would suit one’s body type. This happens as this technique is way more comfortable but it also saves plenty of time. The authors conclude that the convenience, approaches and flexibility, there is a massive increase of labels getting virtual for the online purchase and even the popular designers tend to showcase the clarity in their designs with the help of 3D technology.

For instance, the popular designer Iris Van Herpen tends to work with the techniques like laser cutting as well as 3D printing to generate otherworldly shapes (Kim and Cheeyong 2015). It is  identified that Harpen’s delicate dress covered in thousands of silicon-coated, hand-blown glass bubbles which is yet not observed on the street but available in Virtual technology environment. Here, the obstacle to wear such piece of item could be practically void. On the other side, Kim et al. (2017) performed a research and mentioned that about a gist of how virtual reality helps the fashion industry –such as virtual fashion stores, virtual humans, fashion showcasing in second life. Here, the author referred second life as the virtual world where the models and clothes are based upon avatars. The study has revealed that when people use virtual reality as the part of a live fashion show, a 3D image is supposed to be projected into a practice world setting, which remains as the catwalk in the form of a part of a show. The whole point of high fashion – the attires, the theatrical runway shows, the photo-shoots that appear in magazines, which is supposed to make people dream, create a landscape that is stranger, brighter as well as more fantastic than the ones that people presently live. The study provides the conclusion that the fashion remains as the most significant and appropriate for virtual world.

Virtual reality and consumers’ shopping practices 

When understanding the use of virtual technology in shopping activities, scholars have paid the attention on how customers interact within the virtual environment of shopping activities. In this context, Yap and Yeong (2014) commented that the benefits of virtual technology, especially, the immersive virtual technology is there to persuade the consumers. Hence, Armstrong et al.  (2015) agree that the design of virtual technology generates the experience of presence to the forefront as a significant issue. The author has explained the statement by further stating that presence remains as the sensation here in virtual technology, so far as the buyer is occupied as well as immersed impulsively in the virtual environments. However, Blázquez (2014) argued that the presence is experience that comes from within or it could be the psychological state of the customer taking the help of virtual technology. The author of this article has also mentioned the fact that it is not obligatory to associate with customers’ experience of utilizing the technological medium.

So, the objective of using virtual technology should be about developing the sensational experience of individual within the virtual environment. On the other side, Pappas (2016) mentioned that scholars should not underestimate the impact of the influence of virtual technology to consumers’ experience because they are intimately correlated with each other. Here, Javornik (2016) mentioned that the experience of presence in the virtual environment should be partly be doing with the attitude of the consumer’s’ state of mind and partially with the virtual technology and based on which, a more immersive virtual technology may create greater immersive experience to consumers.

Virtual reality influencing consumer behaviour 

A study performed by Pantano and Priporas (2016), have mentioned the fact that organizations are constantly required to adapt to ever-evolving customer preferences. The author of this article has mentioned that virtual reality has the power to gradually change consumer behaviour as well as the purchase decisions. Kumar et al. (2016) mentioned that virtual reality completely improves the ways consumers can communicate with the products without the requirements for physical prototypes or the samples. According to this author, this VR is an extremely vital concept for the organizations to figure out to market the products more effectively in the near future. A study performed by Ioan?s and Stoica (2014), reveal the data that almost 73% of millennial were surveyed who expect experiences instead of the material things and this is probably the reason where immersive experience like VR may likely to play a great role in the content marketing. Conversely, Pappas (2016) performed a research and mentioned that virtual reality might have a singular massive impact on consumers’ behaviour; however, over time, there could be many small changes which could eventually lead to business completely changing their marketing campaign. According to the author, it is more the experience that VR provides, observation are what create memories. It is not possible to think of better ways to have an immersive experience which could make the customers feel that they are completely in a different regions that may come close to virtual reality. This study has mentioned about some major businesses like Samsung, IKEA and their experiment with virtual reality. The authors suggest that more businesses may soon try to generate an excellent advert for their customer base (Pantano and Priporas 2016).

Research Methodology

Research Philosophy 

Research philosophy remains as a vast topic but it mainly deals with the type and development of knowledge and in a general sense, research philosophy is about the belief the ways in which data regarding a phenomenon could be collected and used. According to Bernard (2017), there are three different types of research philosophies namely positivism, interpretivism and pragmatism. Positivism considers the world as real, independent and obtains knowledge development through the generation and testing of hypothesis. On the other side, interpretivism considers the world as different from the natural world as well as socially constructed where the external bodies remains as the product of dialogue. This particular philosophy helps to gain knowledge from rich, context sensitive and subjectivity of the research context. Conversely, pragmatism research philosophy promotes a particular philosophy of meaning and considers the account of reality. In the proposed study, positivism research philosophy will be applied.

Justifying the selected research philosophy

 However, in the present study, positivism research philosophy creates primacy to numbers and statistical modelling to deliver measurable and conclusive findings. The present study is required to identify and measure the impact of virtual reality on consumers’ buying behaviour; thus, it is necessary to measure the impact of virtual technology such as intensity of factors influencing the buying decisions of consumers.

Research Design 

There are three different types of research design namely exploratory, explanatory and descriptive research designs. As put forward by Brannen (2017), exploratory research helps to explore the research questions and it is not supposed to provide any final as well as conclusive remedies to the existing research studies. On the other side, descriptive study is generally implemented to create findings that are relevant in deriving a proper conclusions (Creswell, and Creswell 2017). In the present study, descriptive research study will be performed.

Justifying the selection of descriptive study

Descriptive study has been chosen as it includes the implementation of quantitative methods of data collection as well as data analysis. Moreover, the study includes a hypothesis which is required to be tested to know the impact of dependent variable-virtual reality on the independent variable which is the consumer buying behaviour. In addition to this, the descriptive study is designed to identify the possibility to describe the casual relationship the variables and concepts.

Data Collection Process 

Data collection remains as the method of collecting information from all relevant and reliable sources to find out the answers to the research issues, verify the hypothesis and assess the outcome. There are two different types of data collection process namely primary data collection and secondary data collection process that are elaborated in the following.

Secondary Data Collection Techniques

Secondary data falls under the category of a data that has already been published in books, newspapers, journal articles and online portal (Mertens 2014). There is an uncountable amount of sources for secondary data; however, in the proposed study, the data will be collected from books, journal articles and newspapers articles that have been performed on the virtual reality and consumer buying behaviour.

Primary Data collection techniques

The primary data collection process is divided into two different categories namely qualitative and quantitative data collection process. Both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods will be used in the proposed research because the study is supposed to find out the relation between and the impact of VR on consumer buying behaviour, therefore, it is necessary to include customers in the data collection process, while qualitative data will help to learn the organizational perspectives on the chosen context. In the proposed study, quantitative data will be collected by carrying out a survey among the customers of two different brands in fashion industry, while the qualitative data will be collected among the managers of two fashion brands –ZARA and H&M in UK.

Data Analysis Techniques 

The primary data will be analysed by converting the raw data into numerical as well as meaningful format and then it will be represented with the help of graphs and tables. The data will be analysed by creating a comparison between the findings found in the literature, while the qualitative data will be analysed by performing a thematic analysis process in which, the primary findings will be linked to the findings found in the literature.

Sampling Techniques 

Sampling is known as a specific criteria to choose the members of the population in the study. There are two major types of sampling techniques namely probability sampling and non-probability sampling (Saunders, Lewis and Thornhill 2012). The target population for collecting the primary data is customers and managers of the organizations Zara and H&M. The sampling frame is set to be 50 customers and 5 managers of the chosen organizations.  For performing the survey among the customers, simple random probability sampling method will be used because in probability sampling, each respondent has the chance to take part in the study; so, there is no any particular criteria. On the other side, for performing the interview among the managers and supervisors, non-probability convenient sampling method will be used because the selection of the respondents depend on the availability and intention of the managers.  

Research instruments 

In order to collect the qualitative and quantitative data, a questionnaire will be prepared- such as for carrying out the survey 12 close ended questions will be designed, while for carrying out the interview, 4 open-ended questions will be prepared.

Ethical Consideration 

Ethical consideration is a significant area in the research which should be treated properly to gain desired outcome from the study. The researcher makes sure that when collecting primary data such as performing interview and survey, no respondent will be forced to take part in the stud. In addition, the researcher also ensures that each respondents holds the right to pull out their participation at any moment. In order to maintain the confidentiality and anonymity of the respondents, the guidelines of Data Protection Act 1998 have been followed.


Armstrong, C.M., Niinimäki, K., Kujala, S., Karell, E. and Lang, C., 2015. Sustainable product-service systems for clothing: exploring consumer perceptions of consumption alternatives in Finland. Journal of Cleaner production, 97, pp.30-39.

Bernard, H.R., 2017. Research methods in anthropology: Qualitative and quantitative approaches. Rowman & Littlefield.

Blázquez, M., 2014. Fashion shopping in multichannel retail: The role of technology in enhancing the customer experience. International Journal of Electronic Commerce, 18(4), pp.97-116.

Brannen, J., 2017. Mixing methods: Qualitative and quantitative research. Routledge.

?iarnien?, R. and Vienažindien?, M., 2014. Agility and responsiveness managing fashion supply chain. Procedia-Social and Behavioral Sciences, 150, pp.1012-1019.

Creswell, J.W. and Creswell, J.D., 2017. Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches. Sage publications.

d'Avolio, E., Bandinelli, R. and Rinaldi, R., 2015. Improving new product development in the fashion industry through product lifecycle management: a descriptive analysis. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 8(2), pp.108-121.

Ioan?s, E. and Stoica, I., 2014. Social media and its impact on consumers behavior. International Journal of Economic Practices and Theories, 4(2), pp.295-303.

Javornik, A., 2016. Augmented reality: Research agenda for studying the impact of its media characteristics on consumer behaviour. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 30, pp.252-261.

Kim, M. and Cheeyong, K., 2015. Augmented reality fashion apparel simulation using a magic mirror. International journal of smart home, 9(2), pp.169-178.

Kim, H.Y., Lee, J.Y., Mun, J.M. and Johnson, K.K., 2017. Consumer adoption of smart in-store technology: assessing the predictive value of attitude versus beliefs in the technology acceptance model. International Journal of Fashion Design, Technology and Education, 10(1), pp.26-36.

Kumar, A., Bezawada, R., Rishika, R., Janakiraman, R. and Kannan, P.K., 2016. From social to sale: The effects of firm-generated content in social media on customer behavior. Journal of Marketing, 80(1), pp.7-25.

Mertens, D.M., 2014. Research and evaluation in education and psychology: Integrating diversity with quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods. Sage publications

Pantano, E. and Priporas, C.V., 2016. The effect of mobile retailing on consumers' purchasing experiences: A dynamic perspective. Computers in Human Behavior, 61, pp.548-555.

Pappas, N., 2016. Marketing strategies, perceived risks, and consumer trust in online buying behaviour. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 29, pp.92-103.

Rauschnabel, P.A., Hein, D.W., He, J., Ro, Y.K., Rawashdeh, S. and Krulikowski, B., 2016. Fashion or technology? A fashnology perspective on the perception and adoption of augmented reality smart glasses. i-com, 15(2), pp.179-194.

Saunders, M., Lewis, P. and Thornhill, A. 2012. Research Methods for Business Students, 6th edition, Pearson Education Limited

Sinclair, R. ed., 2014. Textiles and fashion: materials, design and technology. Elsevier.

Yap, Y.L. and Yeong, W.Y., 2014. Additive manufacture of fashion and jewellery products: A mini review: This paper provides an insight into the future of 3D printing industries for fashion and jewellery products. Virtual and Physical Prototyping, 9(3), pp.195-201.

Zhang, H., Lu, Y., Gupta, S. and Zhao, L., 2014. What motivates customers to participate in social commerce? The impact of technological environments and virtual customer experiences. Information & Management, 51(8), pp.1017-103

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