In his groundbreaking book Location Is (Still) Everything: The Surprising Influence of the Real World on How We Search, Shop, and Sell in the Virtual One, David R. Bell, a marketing professor at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, writes eloquently about real worlds, virtual worlds, how they influence and affect each other, and are increasingly merging together.

One of the main theses in the book is “that the way we use the virtual world of the Internet—for commerce and for information—is dictated to a large extent by the physical world each of us resides in. This influence is pervasive, and sometimes counterintuitive, with implications for our lives in both worlds,” according to Bell. “[If] you and I live under different physical circumstances and in different physical environments, we will use the virtual world very differently—even if we are very similar people in terms of our ages, incomes, education levels, and so on. We’ll shop differently, search differently, and won’t be equally attractive to sellers.”

One example of how the physical world impacts the virtual world (and vice versa) involves, a seller of baby care products. Interestingly, Bell and a coauthor discovered that the consumer demand for goods was dramatically higher in physical locations in which there were fewer households with young children. Why? Because retail stores in these physical locations didn’t cater to households with children as they were a small subset of the local market. But for these consumers, was a virtual godsend as it provided goods that were otherwise unavailable in their immediate area.

Bell was recently interviewed by CIO Insight Managing Editor Jack Rosenberger about Location Is (Still) Everything, his Gravity framework for understanding the ways that location affects both physical and virtual worlds, and how the behavior of Bell, a colorful New Zealander who divides his time between Philadelphia (which plays a prominent role in the book) and San Francisco, is influenced by the real and virtual worlds, often at the same time.

Read the full article on CIO Insight.