Purpose: This study presents one of the earliest empirical investigations on how brand chatbots' anthropomorphic design and social presence communication strategies may improve consumer evaluation outcomes via the mediators of parasocial interaction and perceived dialogue. Design/methodology/approach: This study employs a 2 (high vs. low social presence communication) by 2 (anthropomorphic vs. non-anthropomorphic bot profile) between-subject experimental design to evaluate how chatbots' high social presence communication and anthropomorphic profile design may enhance perceptions of parasocial interactions and dialogue with the chatbot, which in turn drive user engagement, interaction satisfaction and attitude toward the represented brand. Findings: The influences of chatbots' high social presence communication on consumer engagement outcomes are mediated by perceived parasocial interaction and dialogue. Additionally, chatbots' anthropomorphic profile design can boost the positive effects of social presence communication via the psychological mediators. Originality/value: This study advances the interactive marketing literature by focusing on an emerging interactive technology, chatbots. Additionally, distinct from prior chatbot studies that focused on the utilitarian use of chatbots for online customer support, this study not only examines which factors of chatbot communication and profile design may drive chatbot effectiveness but also examines the mechanism underlying the messaging and design effects on consumer engagement. The findings highlight the mediating role of interpersonal factors of parasocial interaction and perceived dialogue.
- Brand likeability
- Parasocial interaction
- Social presence communication
- User engagement
ASJC Scopus subject areas