Exploring virtual worlds : success factors in virtual world marketing

in Management Decision, 47 (8)

ISSN : 0025-1747

Tikkanen, Henrikki ; Hietanen, Joel ; HENTTONEN, Tuomas ; Rokka, Joonas

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Purpose - Drawing from recent work on online social networking and communities of consumption, the purpose of this paper is to explore, identify, and postulate key factors facilitating the growth and success of marketing in virtual worlds. Design/methodology/approach - An empirical study was conducted employing netnographic evidence from three different virtual worlds and related user-generated blog discussions. Findings - The findings suggest mechanisms which enable virtual worlds to gain and ... maintain the interest of their users and therefore underlie successful marketer practices. Research limitations/implications - This is an exploratory study based on qualitative and ethnographic online research methods, and therefore the results are of a descriptive nature. The study was conducted to initiate the academic discourse about marketing in virtual worlds. As such, the paper believes that it can act as a reasonable starting-point for future discussion. Practical implications - The study suggests that traditional advertising has not proven to be a very effective way to exploit the special characteristics of virtual worlds. There is substantial potential in virtual worlds for new and innovative marketing methods that are highly engaging and take advantage of users' active role in virtual worlds. From the marketing point of view, virtual worlds can be especially used for connecting with customers, contributing to customer learning, and getting customer input. Originality/value - The paper illustrates that virtual worlds have come to offer marketers new opportunities for engaging their customers into interactive and co-productive marketplace exchanges. They uncover untapped potential, resources and creative means for building customer relationships.

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