To many people, virtual reality (VR) still seems like a novel idea–something that still has closer ties to science fiction than it does to our everyday lives. However, recent advancements in the consumer electronic space has put VR on a crash course with the average buyer.
Take, for instance, Samsung’s Gear VR headset. This piece of technology is geared (pardon the pun) toward the average consumer and came as a give-away for early buyers of Samsung’s flagship smartphones. And, at only $100, the VR headset was recently named the best phone accessory out there by WIRED.
Why bring up Samsung? Because they’re just one of many examples of how virtual reality is poised to become as commonplace as the smartphones we all carry around with us every day. In fact, Goldman Sachs recently predicted that VR will grow into an $80 billion market by 2025.
Given the expected growth of this new technology, the rapid adoption by consumers, and it’s inherent ability to immerse users into any experience, here are three ways virtual reality will reshape marketing as we know it:
- Product previews: It’s a long held truth that the best way to market a product is to put it directly in the consumer’s hands. But what do you do when that product is something like a hotel room? Here’s where VR comes into play. The hospitality industry can totally transform the way they market their rooms by providing potential visitors with a virtual reality experience. Imagine, for instance, that you could simply lock your phone into your VR headset, put it on, and be placed right at the center of the room you’re thinking about booking for the holidays. It presents a far more compelling sales pitch than an image gallery ever could. Similarly, some car manufacturers like Volvo are beginning to create VR experiences for their newest models, so potential buyers can take a test drive before the physical vehicle ever hits a show room floor.
- Storytelling: If a picture is worth a thousand words, then just imagine what virtual reality can do for your storytelling abilities. That’s what many media outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post are already experimenting with. Most famously, the NYT released a feature piece headlined, “The Displaced,” about the millions of refugees that have been produced as the direct result of conflicts in the Middle East. But, rather than allowing their award winning journalist to paint this narrative through words alone, they went a step further and placed readers directly into the action. The NYT virtual reality app allowed an unprecedented look into the crisis abroad by using 360-degree picture and video to stick viewers directly into the war zone–be it at the center of a fallen building or with the hundreds of refugees fleeing their home countries for safety.
- Branding and Company Culture: Often times what leads to brand loyalty is a connection between company and consumer that goes beyond the product. People are more likely to drink a craft beer after taking a tour of the facility where that beer is brewed. Foodies are more likely to eat at restaurants where they know which farms the food is sourced from. People care not only about the products they buy, but what materials they’re made of, how they’re made, and if anyone else other than the consumer benefits from their purchase. The Mexican based tequila company Patron, understanding not everyone has a chance to take a tour of their factory, created a VR experience of their distillery to help tell the brand’s story. Their VR experience takes viewers on a tour of their facility through the lens of a bee (yes, the bug) flying through the Hacienda facility. The use of VR creates a moment for consumers that won’t soon be forgotten and has great viral potential. Indeed, the video has received tens of thousands of views.
As VR continues its rise and becomes more accessible to the average consumer, great marketing opportunities will present themselves to companies of all sizes and of all industries. Those who are most successful with VR, will be the organizations that can quickly scale their creative teams and introduce campaigns before their competition can get on board.
At Onward Search, we are at the forefront of virtual reality staffing. Whether you’re looking for someone to lead your next initiative, augment your existing team, or assist with creative design, we have the VR / AR talent you need on a short or long-term basis. Contact us today to learn more.