Though all business functions are greatly affected by technological developments, the impact on marketing activities is greater since they are directly linked to the customer. Thus, customer preferences toward certain technologies in terms of marketing experiences is bound to affect the strategies undertaken by a company. Virtual reality is one of the technologies dominating the marketing scenario today. According to a study by Touchstone Research, ‘80% of consumers feel positively towards experiencing branded VR tactics’. Moreover, VR has quite high word-of-mouth marketability. ‘81% of people who had already experienced VR report having told their friends about it’. Other facts include 62% of consumers saying that they would feel more engaged with a brand that sponsors a VR experience and 71% of consumers perceiving a brand that uses VR as forward-thinking.
These statistics and the positive impacts being experienced by companies deploying VR in their marketing operations mean that enterprises are motivated to use VR in innovative ways for marketing their products and services.
There are numerous benefits and use cases of VR in Marketing.
Showcase Products in Advance
Products or services can be realistically demonstrated to potential customers to increase the probability of selling. For example, aircraft manufacturers can allow customers to visualize and test the product in virtual stores, before the product is even built. Consequently, customers from any part of the world can be targeted and taken advance payments from, without having to spend huge amounts on physical prototypes.
VR car showrooms and configurators not only demonstrate a realistic final version of the car but also enable clients to customize models according to their preferences. According to a recent study conducted by just-auto in the five biggest European economies:
´´over 82 per cent of respondents would like to configure their vehicle using immersive technologies, with over 88 per cent stating they would be likely to purchase after doing so. Almost 65 per cent stated the presence of a VR installation would prompt them to visit the dealership.´´
Audi is already making use of 360 VR, with audiovisual simulation, to create a realistic customization and testing environment for its customers.
Real estate is another industry that benefits a great deal from VR. Giraffe360, belonging to the same industry in the UK, uses VR to give interactive virtual tours of properties to make the buying decision easier and quicker.
Showcase Services in Advance
Like the manufacturing industry, the service sector can make use of VR to demonstrate what its services might feel like. With respect to the aerospace industry, All Nippon Airways (ANA) effectively marketed their 777-300ER cabins through a virtual reality tour of its new business class cabin. Lufthansa used VR to sell upgrades to first-class passengers just before boarding their flights. They demonstrated how comfortable and different the premium experience would be. The realistic immersive environment convinced viewers about the comforts and compelled them to try it for real.
Tourism also holds huge potential for VR marketing. YouVisit reveals that ‘13% of people who experience a vacation in VR go on to book a trip or get in touch with hospitality companies.’ Carnival Cruise showcased its Carribean Cruise with a 360 degree video to help potential customers visualize the trip and thus, increase their chances of buying. The Wildlife Trust of South & West Wales goes one step ahead as its customers can use a headset like Oculus Rift (available at their location if one does not have a headset) to be fully immersed in the virtual travelling experience.
Attractive and Distinctive Advertising
With the rise of content marketing and an ever growing amount of promotion channels, businesses need unique methods to advertise their products and services. VR provides the opportunity to create distinctive and memorable content for consumers, that fulfills the requirements of AIDA. VR content does not face ad blockers and viewers are reported to find it less intrusive. There are numerous examples of enterprises already using VR in this regard.
Adidas used VR to let its users follow the mountain climbing journey of two athletes it sponsored. Viewers needed a VR headset and a couple of sensory remotes to feel like they were actually climbing the mountain with the two athletes. The immersive storytelling, rather story living, not only made the experience attractive and fun but also led to more engagement.
Oreo used VR for its marketing campaign that introduced viewers to its latest product, Oreo flavoured cupcakes via ia a 360 degree interactive journey. Unique virtual objects, like milk lakes, and the high sensory impact ensured long term remembrance for the campaign and higher recall compared to normal ads.
Toms Shoes donates a pair of shoes for every pair it sells. It used VR to take customers on a VR trip to Peru, where the could gift the pair to someone needy themselves. This virtual trip not just advertised how the business functions but also remained ingrained in the minds of consumers with its realistically experienced emotional element.
Enhanced User Experience
VR can be used to create an unparalleled and unforgettable experience for customers. Airlines can use VR technology as a source of immersive enjoyment for passengers, especially during long flight durations. For example, the Australian Airline Qantas, and Alaska Airlines, have been offering VR headsets and VR movies for flight entertainment. VR can also be used to calm down the passengers with a phobia for heights and flying in general. Inflight VR provides VR entertainment solutions for travel businesses. It recently secured a 4 million Euros investment which proves that this sector is gaining importance.
Similar techniques can be employed by companies from other industries. BMW delivers a connected series of virtual experiences during its BMW M Drive Tour.
McDonalds transformed the happy meals for its consumers into a fun VR experience as its happy meal box could be reassembled into a VR headset with additional lenses to ensure proper working.
Pointers for Successful Integration of VR in Your Marketing Strategy
First and foremost is educating yourself about the various forms of VR hardware and software so you have a basic idea of what you want to create. This applies even if you are hiring a professional agency, many of which already exist, to make the content for you.
Secondly, while searching for VR content creators, agencies with prior experience should be selected so that they know how to make the VR experience realistic and immersive. This would require using the right VR hardware and software to prevent negative side effects like nausea or vomiting for consumers. The cost of hiring an experienced professional would be higher but the result would definitely be worth it.
Moreover, to increase the effectiveness and reachability of your content, you could pair your VR experience with a Facebook 360, Littlstar, or YouTube 360 campaign. This would ensure that a larger audience comes across it.
Finally, your focus should be the message that you want to deliver while VR should only be the platform that helps you convey it to consumers in a more innovative way. The core content is the actual brand experience, which needs to be elevated by VR and not vice versa.
The global VR market is expected to grow to $53.6 billion by 2025 and VR headsets are becoming more affordable, with 14 million AR and VR devices expected to be sold in 2019. VR marketing allows customers actively experience the brand instead of just passively absorbing communicated messages. It can help consumers perceive the business as modern and innovative due to the unique and attractive marketing proposition, and has a high probability of boosting sales and overall acceptance of the brand through quicker recall and longer retention in memory. While VR marketing evolves, STAGE allows you to test your marketing potential with VR for free! We have already been a part of successful user stories. To start reaping the rewards of VR marketing right now, follow the link below for a free trial of STAGE :)