Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between virtual identity and virtual consumption in Second Life. More specifically, we investigate the tendency to link the virtual world to reality through the concept of identity, and explore the role consumption and business endeavors play in this process. Information was obtained from comments posted on four Second Life forums, focusing on the general themes of virtual avatars, aspects of business activities, and their mutual impact on each other. Qualitative narrative research analysis was employed. From our results, three distinct categories emerged on the basis of residents’ immersion to Second Life; 1) purely virtual, 2) mixed, and 3) realist. We highlight particular characteristics associated with each of these clusters, with suggestions aiming to capture the various demands and preferences of each corresponding group. In terms of business activities, residents appeared quite demanding, identifying high quality products and professional services as the basis for business success in virtual settings. The business approaches most likely identified to lead to success or failure associated with certain businesses confirm that online environments differ substantially from physical and real world markets, with trust being a particularly sensitive issue in these anonym and fully disembodied contexts. Further implications for organizations and scholars are discussed.