Gartner Research

When Things Become Customers: What Marketing Leaders Need to Know About Emerging Virtual Customers

Published: 27 March 2019

ID: G00707790

Analyst(s): Marketing Research Team


Advancements in the Internet of Things, growth in the use of virtual personal assistants and the development of advanced analytical and AI capabilities have led to a new type of customer: the virtual customer. This report briefs marketing leaders on what this means for their function.

Table Of Contents


Three Waves: A Short History of Customer Interactions

The Virtual Customers Use Case Matrix

Defining the Axes

Things as Fixed Customers With Human Fulfillment

Use Cases

Things as Fixed Customers With Virtual Fulfillment

Use Cases

Things as Adaptable Virtual Customers

Use Cases

Things as Autonomous Virtual Customers

Use Case

Barriers to Growth in Virtual Customers

Barrier 1: Technological Capacity and Capability

Barrier 2: The Regulatory Environment for Data Privacy

Barrier 3: Determination of Legal Liability

Barrier 4: Brand Strategy for Virtual Customers

Barrier 5: Human Acceptance of Virtual Customers

Considerations for Marketing Leaders


Recommended by the Authors

About This Research


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