Virtual reality has various applications in the field of Marketing, like distinctive VR advertisements and enhancing user experience with VR. Being able to virtually transport users in a simulated environment, VR holds immense potential for market research as well.
Let’s discover how.
While conducting market research, VR can provide a huge advantage with eye-tracking in a dynamic and immersive testing environment. Customers wear VR headsets and enter the shopping space under study. The way the customer interacts with the environment is beneficial in studying numerous factors including:
- Eye-movements around the room
- Which products are noticed and for how long?
- Which product features, packaging, or ingredients are preferred?
- In what order are the products and their features looked at?
- Which products and features are not being noticed?
Analysis of these details provides insights into which products are attractive to customers and how they would like the store setting to be. Thus, shelves can be assorted and displays can be designed to qualify for customer demand and preferences. Desired packaging, ingredients and other features can also be incorporated into products. Therefore, virtual reality can prove to be very useful in store environments for testing purposes. Tobii Pro is one of the companies successfully using VR eye-tracking technology for research.
VR Prototypes for Products
Firstly, VR research is much quicker and more effective than normal market research. It allows manufacturers to create virtual prototypes of products and services both, so that they can be realistically demonstrated to potential customers. 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. Costly and time-consuming iterations are also avoided as the virtual prototypes can be altered in real-time as soon as the feedback is received. Thus, models can be customized according to customer preferences with no travel costs for moving teams and customer representatives to physical locations.
VR car showrooms utilize virtual reality technologies to not only demonstrate a realistic final version of the car but also enable clients to customize the models. 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.”
Showcasing 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.
Similarly, the retail industry can create virtual stores for its customers. Approximately 70% of purchasing decisions occur when consumers are inside a store. Having huge emotional power, VR can propel buyers in real-time as it bridges the gap between the real and simulated worlds. A great example proving that is the VR application used by IKEA to help customers imagine how their kitchen would look like after setting it up.
Therefore, virtual reality compensates for one of the biggest drawbacks of traditional market research; the fact that it lacks a realistic test environment. VR gives participants a feel of the real context while ensuring low operational costs and lesser time. It also guarantees appropriate control for researchers so they can test the effects of all factors involved. Hence, the use of VR in consumer testing and research is vital for companies willing to make huge investments in new physical spaces or interior renovations. In case you are willing to test it, try STAGE for free now!