Consumer and Object Experience in the Internet of Things: An Assemblage Theory Approach

Donna L Hoffman and Thomas P. Novak (2018), Journal of Consumer Research

The consumer Internet of Things (IoT) has the potential to revolutionize consumer experience. Because consumers can actively interact with smart objects, the traditional, humancentric conceptualization of consumer experience as consumers’ internal subjective responses to branded objects may not be sufficient to conceptualize consumer experience in the IoT. Smart objects possess their own unique capacities and their own kinds of experiences in interaction with the consumer and each other. A conceptual framework based on assemblage theory and object-oriented ontology details how consumer experience and object experience emerge in the IoT. This conceptualization is anchored in the context of consumer-object assemblages, and defines consumer experience by its emergent properties, capacities, and agentic and communal roles expressed in interaction. Four specific consumer experience assemblages emerge: enabling experiences, comprised of agentic self-extension and communal self-expansion, and constraining experiences, comprised of agentic self-restriction and communal self-reduction. A parallel conceptualization of the construct of object experience argues that it can be accessed by consumers through object-oriented anthropomorphism, a nonhuman-centric approach to evaluating the expressive roles objects play in interaction. Directions for future research are derived, and consumer researchers are invited to join a dialogue about the important themes underlying our framework.

Hoffman and Novak (2018) Consumer and Object Experience in the IoT (with Web Appendix)

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