Virtual reality in social marketing: a process evaluation

Timo Dietrich, Sharyn Rundle-Thiele, Krzysztof Kubacki, James Durl, Matthew J. Gullo, Denni I Arli, Jason P. Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to present an innovative reflexive process evaluation method for a social marketing programme featuring an innovative virtual reality (VR) simulation experience for adolescents. Design/methodology/approach: A process evaluation framework focusing on three key elements – context, implementation and mechanisms of impact – was followed in this study. In total, 374 participants (mean age: 15.2 years, 58 per cent female) completed outcome evaluation surveys before and after the programme delivery, and 300 participants completed qualitative feedback forms following their participation in the VR component of the programme. Findings: A process evaluation delivers insights beyond those attained in outcome evaluations, enhancing the understanding of factors contributing to programme success or failure that can be used to improve future programme iterations. The VR experience demonstrated high satisfaction scores with users, and the findings demonstrate the importance of a multi-disciplinary and industry partnered programme approach to support VR implementation and delivery. Research limitations/implications: This research demonstrates that additional learnings are obtained from a process evaluation. The findings are limited to one specific research programme, and the outcome effects of the VR simulation have not been assessed in isolation. Practical implications: The methods outlined in this paper offer a process evaluation tool that can be used by marketers and other practitioners to reflect on programme success or failure to enhance core offerings. Originality/value: The application of Moore et al.’s (2015) process evaluation framework delivers a reflexive research tool that can be applied to critically consider three key elements: context, implementation and mechanisms of impact of developed programmes. VR’s capacity to provide a satisfying and highly valued programme resource that participants value for its realistic, novel and immersive experiential learning experience was demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)806-820
Number of pages15
JournalMarketing Intelligence and Planning
Issue number7
StatePublished - Oct 7 2019



  • Alcohol
  • Gamification
  • Process evaluation
  • Reflexive praxis
  • Social marketing
  • Virtual reality

Cite this

Dietrich, T., Rundle-Thiele, S., Kubacki, K., Durl, J., Gullo, M. J., Arli, D. I., & Connor, J. P. (2019). Virtual reality in social marketing: a process evaluation. Marketing Intelligence and Planning, 37(7), 806-820.