Date of Award


Document Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Marketing and International Business

First Advisor

Ms Rose Leahy

Second Advisor

Professor Dr Ralf Schellhase


In the contemporary landscape, human behaviour is characterised by digitally mediated interactions. Computing power has simultaneously enhanced and miniaturised to the extent that contemporary consumer devices demonstrate power equivalent to or greater than that of personal computers of recent memory. At the same time, network connectivity has proliferated to ubiquitous levels. In this landscape, the concept of augmented reality (AR) has emerged as a way to visualise the pervasive virtual information woven into the physical environment as a result of ubiquitous connectivity, facilitated by ever-increasing device sophistication. However, research on the phenomenon has remained predominantly technical in nature; outside of the technical fields, gaps in academic discourse on AR abound. From a social sciences perspective, there is a dearth of inquiry based on the role of AR in a societal context, and the social practices engendered as a result of its assimilation. In respect of marketing communications, the principal domain in which this research is positioned, a further gap presents itself: instances of industry adoption signal the potential of AR as a marketing phenomenon, yet research which empirically investigates the nature of its role within the discipline severely lacks in substance. These voids in important knowledge are bridged through the pursuit of objectives derived from the following research question: what is the nature of the role or roles played by augmented reality in the societal context, and in particular what will its impact be upon the marketing communications domain? The specific objectives which derive from the question posed are 1) the conceptual development of AR, a nascent phenomenon; 2) to understand the role played by AR in the marketing context, and 3) to determine the nature of roles played by AR and its impact on society. The research adopts a qualitative approach to elicit the nature of data required in pursuit of these objectives. Specifically, qualitative interviews are carried out with industry practitioners of AR with a demonstrable expertise in the area, and focus groups are conducted with consumers in order to provide a more holistic perspective on the phenomenon. The resultant findings are embodied by two model frameworks: one model depicts a proposed course of AR diffusion throughout society, highlighting a metaphorical seesaw of opportunity and challenges which must be balanced in order to effectively assimilate the phenomenon into everyday life. The second framework formalises an approach to the deployment of AR in marketing communications, thus helping to develop heuristics of best practice. The proposed model is dual-natured, highlighting not only the unique attributes of AR, but emphasising the robustness of traditional best practice values to which its implementation must adhere.

Access Level


Included in

Marketing Commons