Some few years back, virtual reality (VR) looked like a fantasy that might never come to reality not to talk of it becoming mainstream or widely available. However, there are many VR platforms out there now like Samsung Gear R, Oculus and other virtual reality platforms making VR not to seem a far fetch dream or some sci-fi movie idea. Mainstream virtual reality is here now, and marketers are beginning to notice it.
Like so many technologies that are quickly arriving on the scene, virtual technology is yet to prove that it can hang around for a while and will continue to do so in the days ahead. At the moment, it proves to do even better unlike other technologies that show up with a lot of promises of hanging around then disappears just after it has been presented. Again, all current signs of the virtual reality technology point to it sticking around for a while
Is VR here to stay?
In Goldman Sachs Research findings published in a report in 2016 on the future of virtual and augmented reality, it led them to believe that this technology could become as widespread as the smartphone. An even KZero predicted that the Virtual Reality market would be worth 5.2 billion by 2018. When we look at these numbers, we cannot ignore its presence now regardless of its potential or ability to hang around for a very long time. Its impact on marketing today.
If Facebook is running for VR, then we are yet to see what becomes of it. Facebook announced the beta version of Facebook Spaces, an offer exclusive to Oculus Rifts users, with which they can create a virtual version of themselves and interact with friends in a virtual world. Users of the Oculus Rift technology spaces are allowed to hang out in a whole new way while experiencing interactive virtual reality content. Wow! You can imagine the opportunities and possibilities in this new virtual environment.
The use of virtual reality by Marketers these days
Virtual reality is presenting an incredible opportunity for prospects to interact with a brand in a more personal and experiential way than ever before. Whether it is product or service or even just a cause, marketers are always and will always look for new ways to offer prospects in a unique experience with their brands, something they can share with their friends or on social media. You experience this now in the form of live videos.
These days, brands are using live videos in Facebook Live, Instagram Live and so on to stem their events, hold question and answer sessions with their customers, do demos of their products among other things. This makes it possible for customers to experience products in a way they would have done if only they meet in-person. They are given the opportunity to experience the product realistically and humanly through the digital world. That is VR for you. So logically, VR is the next big thing for marketers nowadays. About thirty percent of Forbes Global 2000 companies will experiment with VR and Augmented Reality marketing this year according to IDC. This is something we will all have to wait and see how it happens, though we can already see some brands using this new opportunity already.
Some brands using VR Marketing already
Virtual reality has and is making it very easy for brands to market their products and get creative with the experiences their products or services offer to their audience. While it is difficult to say how this VR tech will be used in the future to affect marketing, there are a few that are ahead of the curve. We will look at some of the brands exploiting the technology of virtual reality already.
Game of Thrones
Game of Thrones is an iconic TV show that was one of the first to use virtual reality to allow viewers to experience its fictional with “Ascend the Wall” exhibit. Creators put fans “inside the show” by virtually placing them in familiar scenarios from the Game of Thrones series, where they feel like they are participating in the story rather than just watching it.
Lowe’s just recently released the Holoroom, a virtual reality DIY (Do It Yourself) clinic for its customers. Inside their store, the Holoroom virtually teaches their customers how to complete a common home improvement activity like tilling the bathroom and so on. This educates the customers and at the same time helps them to feel comfortable purchasing the tools hopefully from them and tackling the project on their own. They even went as far as A/B testing their virtual reality against a customer only watching a YouTube tutorial. About thirty-six percent recall for those who watched Holoroom’s tutorials than YouTube.
The popular Tom’s shoe company
This is a one-for-one company that uses a VR chair in their retail store in California to allow shoppers to experience their shoe donation process in the remote areas of Central America. This allowed the company’s customers to experience the mission of the company in a whole new and immersive way and to better understand and connect with the brands’ value. Through VR technology, they can make their customers experience it rather than just hearing that shoes are donated.