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Second Life as a research environment: avatar-based focus groups (AFG)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>8/01/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Qualitative Market Research: An International Journal
Issue number1
Volume19
Number of pages14
Pages (from-to)101-114
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract


Purpose
– This study aims to examine the nature and the potential use of avatar-based focus groups (AFGs) (i.e. focus groups conducted in three-dimensional [3D] virtual worlds [VWs]) as compared to face-to-face and online focus groups (OFGs), motivated by the ability of VWs to stimulate the realism of physical places. Over the past decade, there has been a rapid increase in using 3D VWs as a research tool.

Design/methodology/approach
– Using a two-phase reflective approach, data were collected first by using traditional face-to-face focus groups, followed by AFGs. In Phase 2, an online, semi-structured survey provided comparison data and experiences in AFGs, two-dimensional OFGs and traditional face-to-face focus groups.

Findings
– The findings identify the advantages and disadvantages of AFGs for marketing research. There is no evident difference in data quality between the results of AFGs and face-to-face focus groups. AFG compensates for some of the serious limitations associated with OFGs.

Practical implications
– The paper reflects on three issues, data quality, conduct of AFGs (including the moderator reflection) and participant experience, that together inform one’s understanding of the characteristics, advantages and limitations of AFG.

Originality/value
– This is the first paper to compare between AFGs, traditional face-to-face focus groups and OFGs. AFG holds many advantages over OFGs and even, sometimes, over face-to-face focus groups, providing a suitable environment for researchers to collect data.

Bibliographic note

This article is (c) Emerald Group Publishing and permission has been granted for this version to appear here. Emerald does not grant permission for this article to be further copied/distributed or hosted elsewhere without the express permission from Emerald Group Publishing Limited.