Mirror, mirror on the wall : a study of AR-powered magic mirror technology and its influence on consumer experiences and attitudes
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- Master Thesis 
Augmented Reality (AR) has been growing in popularity in recent years, and is becoming increasingly realistic. Several companies have started to use AR for the virtual testing of products, particularly within the beauty industry. With this study I aimed to determine how and why virtual augmentation of the physical self influences consumer experience and attitudes. In order to answer this question, I chose a qualitative and exploratory research design with an inductive approach. I did my main data collection process in London, where I visited four makeup boutiques employing AR technology for the virtual testing of makeup. I interviewed both employees and customers, and I observed customers interact with the technology. I supplemented my data with blog and vlog entries, and unstructured interviews with technology consumers. I found that AR technology influences consumers’ attitudes towards experimenting with the self, and that it has the potential to influence consumers’ experience of self. I propose that AR facilitates experimentation with the self by disconnecting the user from the cultural norms of the real environment, and that this dynamic allows consumers to construct different systems of preferences at different points of the Reality-Virtuality continuum. Furthermore, AR allows consumers to pursue an augmented version of themselves which is closer to their ideal self. I propose that consumers with a large discrepancy between their actual and ideal self are more likely to do so. Exposure to this self may cause a shift in the consumer’s self-concept and cause dysmorphia. I theorise that this is due to the liminal nature of AR, which allows the user to construct a self which is neither fully physical nor fully virtual. My data indicate that AR can temporarily relieve cognitive dissonance and discomfort caused by self-discrepancy. Based on my study, I suggest a number of managerial implications.