Virtual Fitting Room Effect: Moderating Role of Body Mass Index

Shuai Yang, Guiyang Xiong, Huifang Mao, Minghui Ma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


An emerging virtual-reality technology, virtual fitting rooms (VFRs) allow online shoppers to virtually try on clothes. Despite its increasing popularity, how VFR technology influences different consumer groups is hitherto unknown. Neglecting such nuances may significantly undermine VFR effectiveness. From a large-scale field experiment with real-world transactional data and five laboratory experiments, the authors document the asymmetric effects of VFR use conditional on consumer body types, characterize the theoretical underpinnings, and identify a systematic set of managerially actionable moderators that can mitigate adverse effects. Specifically, while VFR use enhances product evaluations and purchases among consumers with relatively low body mass index (BMI) levels, it negatively influences responses from high-BMI consumers due to self-image threat induced by avatars that resemble consumers’ own bodies. To cope with self-image threat, high-BMI consumers tend to shift the blame to the apparel item, resulting in negative product responses. The authors identify four feasible solutions to alleviate the negative responses among high-BMI users of VFRs, namely, promoting diversified beauty standards, featuring mannequin faces for VFR avatars, providing consumers opportunities to engage in prosocial behavior, and presenting high-status products. These findings offer guidance for retailers to leverage this new technology smartly to enhance both business performance and consumer well-being.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1221-1241
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Marketing Research
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • beauty norm
  • body mass index
  • product status
  • self-image threat
  • virtual fitting room

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Marketing


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