VR has a fantastic ability to capture an audience’s attention, influence their emotions, and affect their buying behaviours too. Leading brands like McDonald’s and Volvo have been capitalising on this compelling medium for the last decade. By becoming early adopters, they have increased customer loyalty, using VR as a powerful force in creative marketing collateral. This trend is only set to continue as more brands invest in this technology. The VR industry is expected to be worth $80 billion within 10 years according to Goldman Sachs’ predictions. But if you need some more compelling cases for introducing virtual reality into your business, here are 8 more reasons to jump on the VR bandwagon.
VR tech is more affordable than you think
VR technology is no longer the reserve of the rich. In fact, there are many tells that VR is gradually becoming more accepted into the mainstream, due to improved smartphone capabilities and interest from leading sites like Facebook.
In the coming years, VR teams from Facebook’s 2014 acquisition of Oculus have announced that it has big plans to include 360° VR experiences within social media feeds, allowing people to share these interactive images between friends. For early adopters, investing in VR technology now can put you miles ahead of the competition. There are vast opportunities for creating compelling customer experiences that capture your audience’s complete and undivided attention, whether they’re viewing from their smartphone, desktop or VR headsets.
VR helps customers explore products and services in stunning detail
Within the luxury travel industry, VR has been highly effective in delivering exciting marketing experiences to customers. Companies like VIP Worldwide use virtual reality to offer their guests 360°degree views of their hotel rooms, combined with navigation triggers that link to further video advertisements and marketing information.
If you’re looking to add value to your products or services, giving your customers a virtual reality tour of your goods can do a lot to give consumers reassurance before parting with their money.
VR combined with AR can create an exciting ‘mixed reality’ environment
By combining virtual reality technologies (that plant the user in a completely artificial space) with augmented reality (where graphic elements are overlaid on top of live images), brands can create immersive environments where the viewers can not only view, but interact with virtually constructed surroundings.
In the medical profession, mixed reality is already being utilised as an educational tool. Project Esper, for instance, has combined technologies to create 3D learning maps of the human anatomy for the benefit of medical students.
VR can be used as a design tool
Tilt Brush from Google and SuperHuge 3D printing are just two VR design tools that are transforming the way design briefs and artistic works can be carried out.
Through visualisation technology and 3D modeling tools, engineers can finalise designs and spot – in remarkably fine detail – possible flaws and areas for improvement in building prototypes. This saves time, and more importantly money, for testing and materials. For construction companies like Balfour Beatty in particular, VR has now become an indispensable part of their design process, building trust with clients, contractors and end users alike.
VR can get audiences interested in adverts again
With the rise of adblockers and the fall in television viewing ratings, consumers are becoming thoroughly bored of the conventional TV ad format.
For VR developers and brands, bringing customers unique experiences through virtual reality can get people excited about commercial messages once more. A stunning example of this in action was last year’s John Lewis Christmas ad. Through 360° views of scenes from the ad, customers shopping on their website could immerse themselves in the emotions and sentiments of the widely praised TV advert.
VR can enhance real-life experiences
With shoppers overwhelmed by retail choice, VR that gives the customer the opportunity to ‘try before they buy’ presents a unique opportunity for brands to build trust and brand loyalty with consumers.
Sephora’s Virtual Artist takes images from smartphone cameras and overlays makeup products onto the user’s selfie image. This gives customers the chance to check for the right shade, without having to go in store to try on tester cosmetics.
Ecommerce brands should take note, as in the move away from the traditional retail brick-and-mortar model, VR can help bridge the gap between online browsing and real-life shopping experiences.
VR isn’t just for customers, but merchants too
VR changing rooms are a great way for customers to test products before making a purchase, but VR can be beneficial for merchandisers and retailers too.
When making an online store, apps like Thread Studio for Shopify allow ecommerce brands to test customisation patterns on 3D images. This gives merchandisers the opportunity to see a more accurate and lifelike rendering of things like t-shirt designs or hats, before making the decision to stock them in their e-tail store.
VR can help you tell your brand’s story
The New York Times has taken storytelling to a whole new level with the introduction of VR into their news site. With nothing more than a smartphone, readers can now dive deep into their features and news articles. Last year for example, NYT featured a storytelling VR experience of Santa’s Grotto. It offered the chance for young readers to see panoramic views of Santa’s surroundings (filmed in Lapland), as well as video and images that aimed to build a Christmassy atmosphere, to raise anticipation for the festive season among Santa’s young fans.
The promise of creating vastly more compelling consumer experiences through the use of VR should energise brands looking to take their creative marketing output to the next level. Similarly, the technologies can also be utilised in-house to aid workflow and manufacturing in ways that can prove both cost-effective and time-efficient. Whatever stage of development you’re at, thinking about how you can best present your story using the creative medium of VR should be a major consideration.
Victoria Greene is an ecommerce and branding expert who loves to help businesses explore new creative marketing technologies. She’s also a freelance writer and runs her own blog at VictoriaEcommerce..