“Humanized Robots”: A Proposition of Categories to Understand Virtual Influencers



Linha de Pesquisa
Formação, Crescimento e Transformação de Sistemas de Negócio, Organizacionais e Sócio-Econômicos

Antonio Batista da Silva Oliveira, Paula Chimenti



Australasian Journal of Information Systems, v. 25. Abstract: Worldwide investments in influencer marketing are growing and could reach US$ 101 billion in 2020. But how can the brands shield themselves from scandals and other limitations of human influencers? The solution for many companies has involved robots. Virtual influencers (VI) are virtual robots that can emulate human appearance and behaviour and have become a trend in marketing. This study analyses how non-human influencers affect marketing communication by adopting two methods that are unpublished in the investigation of this phenomenon: a systematic literature review and netnography in conjunction with in-depth interviews with specialists resulting in the study identifying five categories (two of which are unpublished and unexplored in the literature) that can facilitate management decisions and also future studies around VIs: anthropomorphism/humanization, attractiveness, authenticity, scalability, and controllability. This study also identified more convergences than divergences between the virtual and the real and between humans and non-humans, generating challenges, opportunities, and guidelines for future research and for assisting management in making decisions concerning digital marketing.

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