Virtual consumption, or consumption of virtual goods and property, has become a major economic activity in social virtual worlds such as Second Life. Given that virtual consumption has become an important part of everyday virtual life in social virtual worlds, understanding virtual consumption can be an essential aspect to understanding user behavior in those worlds. Despite its significance, little research has explicitly examined virtual consumption. Unsurprisingly, then, we know very little concerning the fundamental question of why users consume virtual property. The research study described in this paper is an initial examination of that question. For the study, we employed the laddering interview technique and means-end chain analysis, which produces users’ goal structure in reference to a hierarchical system of interrelated goals. 93 participants were interviewed in Second Life for the study. The results show that virtual consumption widely penetrates into virtual life and make virtual experience much richer.
Jung, Yoonhyuk and Pawlowski, Suzanne D., "Consuming Bits: An Exploratory Study of User Goals for Virtual Consumption" (2009). ICIS 2009 Proceedings. 31.