Abdul Ashraf

Associate Professor, Marketing
Goodman School of Business

Abdul Ashraf is an Associate Professor of Marketing in the Goodman School of Business. He studies international marketing, marketing analytics, consumer decision-making and technology adoption. In 2017, he was the recipient of the Goodman School of Business Emerging Scholar of the Year Award.

Ashraf is one of 11 Brock researchers and scholars who received funding under the 2020-21 round of the VPR Canada Games Grant program. Here, he discusses his research project “Reaching and Engaging Canada Games Fans with Augmented Reality.”

Please give a brief overview of your research project.

Major sports events such as the upcoming Canada Summer Games have a positive impact on spectators’ subjective well-being. But, due to the onset of COVID-19, many people are concerned about attending events in person because of coming into physical contact with products or other individuals, thus resulting in an upsurge in the use of digital technologies such as augmented reality (AR). Practitioners and researchers have rushed to implement and explore the benefits of AR with little to no thought given to the usability aspect of AR applications. The latest market research suggests lack of AR application usability as one of the most important factors influencing consumers’ decisions to reject these mobile AR applications.

Our research aims are two-fold: to develop a comprehensive survey instrument for measuring mobile AR application usability; and to test the suitability of our mobile AR application usability instrument in predicting AR usage intention, loyalty and fan engagement during the Canada Summer Games.

What do you expect will be the outcome of your research?

We plan to create two apps using augmented and virtual reality that would project users into environments in the Canada Summer Games and local Niagara wineries. These apps will be used to enhance the interaction and engagement level with the Canada Games events and local wineries. The augmented reality usability scale we create will measure consumers’ perceptions of how useable, friendly and effective our apps are. Our comprehensive survey instrument will allow practitioners and researchers who are interested in exploring the benefits and usage of AR applications during Canada games to study to-be-developed, to-be-implemented and existing mobile AR applications.

How will this contribute to knowledge or understanding of the Canada Summer Games?

The app created for the Canada Summer Games will allow those around the country to learn about what the Canada Summer Games has to offer. Users will have a chance to participate in their chosen event in a 3D virtual world. An example of this would be a user would have the ability to put themselves onto the basketball court and play in a basketball game without having to be present at the event. This interactivity promotes high engagement with, and representation for, the Canada Summer Games.

How did you become interested in this research?

After looking over 130 articles about augmented reality, we noticed that there was not one article published that researched how consumers perceive augmented reality apps usability. The aim of our research is to make the application’s technical attributes more meaningful, understandable and relevant to a consumer.

How do you plan on sharing your research?

We will present our research at the Goodman Luncheon Speaker Series, in top-tier journals and the Niagara 2022 Summer Games showcase. We will also be showcasing our research done with two different wineries in the Niagara region.

Do you have any advice or tips on how colleagues in your Faculty can incorporate the Canada Games into their research?

I think the best advice coming from a marketing background is to incorporate companies, participants and spectators into the research so that spectators concerned about COVID-19 can benefit by giving them other options to be involved in the Canada Games.