There’s no doubt about it, the games and entertainment industries have driven innovation in the new head-mounted virtual reality (VR) space, particularly in the UK where companies like nDreams have created VR titles for Oculus Rift and Playstation VR among others. But there’s more to VR than shooting zombies or painting in thin air. The same technology has brought new opportunities for marketing teams to make their brands or advertising content more playful, engaging and immersive.
We have started to see an increasing number of brands adopt VR technology as part of their marketing strategies, albeit often offering limited ‘on the rail’ experiences via 360 videos that can play on almost any modern smartphone. Just one example includes the telephone-style booths created by Marriott Hotels to ‘transport’ people to warmer climates so they can experience a holiday before they buy.
While the creative campaigns like those of the above certainly help to engage with consumers in new and interesting ways, the use of this technology in the business world shouldn’t stop there. It’s just the tip of the VR iceberg…
Avoid making misinformed and expensive bad decisions
VR is fully immersive, and can be controlled in a way that is impossible in the real world. So, when combined with behavioural measurements such as eye-tracking, for example, market researchers can immediately gain much deeper insights into how shoppers react to brands, packaging, messaging, and signage throughout the shopper journey. This process can take place before a design is even put into production, let alone placed on a shelf in-store, meaning brands can research design effectiveness in context.
VR empowers market researchers with data
With VR technology, the need for expensive research space all but disappears because once inside the VR headset shoppers are oblivious to real-world around them. This is a process that can take place throughout a product’s development to close-in on the optimal design, so expensive branding mistakes can be caught before they make it out into the market place. And, because all of this can be measured in a virtual world, it is quick and relatively cheap to gain actionable insights.
Don’t worry about job security
While marketers might easily feel empowered by the prospect of these advancements in VR, agencies, designers and creatives might also be quivering in their boots at the prospect of a technology that can essentially work out whether their ‘eye-catching’ designs really are eye-catching.
But this isn’t just another instance of machines taking people’s jobs away. The ability to combine virtual reality with eye-tracking is in fact a giant leap forward for marketing, placing research at the heart of product development, and allowing brands and creatives to truly optimise their designs before they hit the shelves.