Virtual reality (VR) is not a new concept. From the 19th century’s 360-degree murals to the 1990’s arcade games, the idea of simulating emerging experiences has been constantly appealing the most creative minds.
In fact, much before Google Cardboards and Samsung Gear VR, science fiction had predicted VR way back in 1930, when science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum author of Pygmalion’s Spectacles wrote about the pair of goggles that let the wearer experience a fictional world much like today’s immersive experience of VR.
But we’ve come a long way since. With the advent of more affordable VR devices, virtual reality is getting literally real and the hype has already caught the attention of marketers. We might still be far from a mainstream scenario, but smart brands are already starting to use VR technology to immerse consumers into their products and create the ultimate customer experience.
The advantage? In a time of increasing customer demands, disrupting the traditional marketing techniques towards innovative, personalized and contextual marketing might be the key to engage deeply with prospects and customers. Moreover innovative technology and new formats are more likely to make you noticed and create some extra buzz through word of mouth or social sharing.
And while creating spectacular experiences might not make sense for every brand, even the most conventional businesses can take advantage of this innovative technology. To help you find your company’s path through the virtual reality world, we have selected three of the most common use cases of virtual reality for marketing that will suit any kind of product or service.
Probably one of the best-known marketing applications of VR is for product showcasing or product demos. Through artificial 360º environments, VR apps can replicate in-store or real testing surroundings and build complete immersive experiences that revolutionize the “try before you buy” concept. From retail to automotive industry, the possibilities are immense for brands looking to generate unique and emotional connections with their prospects.
Giving customers the opportunity to try products remotely and experience its real features or functionalities is not only fun and engaging but also breaks the geographic barriers, saving you the time and resources needed for traditional “real-life demos”. Moreover, while offering the possibility to stand-out from competitors, VR apps also provide useful users’ insights that help marketers to better understand their customers.
The 360-degree experience is also changing the way video marketing is done, bringing the marketing storytelling to a whole new level: the “story living". Instead of just “telling” the story to an audience, you are able to actually place your audience inside your story and make them a part of your journey. This has proven to be a successful concept as it offers the scope to completely capture the attention and engage the audience, triggering ultimate emotional connections.
And the best part is that using 360º videos you can even offer these experiences through a traditional browser, without the need of specific cardboard devices or headsets.
Another common use of VR technology is the retail industry’s in-store experiences. From simple entertainment to useful informative and time-saving applications, these are successful ways to interact with shoppers who tend to engage naturally. Some examples are the use of headsets to display on demand fashion shows, with the latest collections or the cutting edge technology of “virtual fitting rooms” that overlay the real shoppers mirror reflections with the clothes of their choice, with countless style and color options.
The future is yet unknown, but retailers seem to be ready to explore this creative approach and the opportunities are vast: interactive shop window displays, in-store GPS based communication, real-time offers and promotions, and all sorts of micro-campaigns that will unlock new powers of marketing personalization.
Marc Haarmeier has been responsible for the introduction of digital solutions for over 20 years. During his studies as an industrial engineer, he supervised international transformation projects for a consulting firm. In 1997 he became a member of the firm’s management as a division manager. In 2003, he and other partners founded a group of companies with subsidiaries in Germany, Austria and Switzerland which focused on digital solutions for business-critical processes. Since 2011, he has been working at AMPLEXOR, responsible for digital processes in the DACH/CEE area. He is a driving force behind digital transformation with a focus on the comprehensive Digital Experience Management portfolio.