At world’s end: Exploring consumer-marketer tensions in the closure of adverworlds

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Abstract:

While extant research has primarily studied methods and measures of virtual world marketing, we examine complications that arise when marketers create and subsequently close virtual worlds. Adverworlds are virtual worlds created for marketing purposes in which consumers contribute to building a brand-centric virtual world. From a qualitative investigation of the closure of Disney’s adverworld, ‘Virtual Magic Kingdom’, we identify consumer responses to the adverworld’s closure and three areas of tension that underlie these responses: access and ownership, relationships, and communication. We identify competing consumer and marketer logics that underscore each tension and discuss how consumers negotiate the resulting conflicts. We conclude with theoretical insights into virtual worlds as sites of consumer-brand relationship and offer practitioners recommendations for closing an adverworld’s virtual doors.

Keywords: access-based consumption; adverworlds; consumer mourning; institutional logics; market tension; netnography

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/0267257X.2013.833968

Affiliations: 1: Escuela de Administración, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile 2: Schulich School of Business, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada 3: School of Management, Bucknell University, Lewisburg, PA, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2013

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