As marketers we have SO many tools at our disposal. From digital ad campaigns, to tv commercials, billboards, and email newsletters – consumers are surrounded by advertisements that entice them into a service or purchasing a product. Your job, dear marketer, is to communicate that your service or product is superior to the competition. It’s bigger and better. It’s sexy and cutting edge. This product is the only option out there. Your job is to highlight your product to show that it will enhance the consumer’s life. Through advertisements we ask consumers to imagine themselves using our product or service. To do that you need a convincing narrative and a good imagination on the consumers part. After all, only so many senses can be engaged on any given medium. Thus we enter the newest tool to our trade – VR (Virtual Reality).
VR immerses the user by using a video display wrapped around their head and shows them an alternate reality rendered in 3D. Working in conjunction with this device are your body’s movements. If you turn your head left you will view the world as if you were looking to your left. If you punch an enemy, they will respond with realistic physics (or amazingly exaggerated physics). Sound is also a typical component to most VR devices. Hearing the world you’re in adds great depth to the experience and narrative. In many other instances, additional gear can be added to make the experience that much more realistic. Additional sensory hardware, accessories, mist, smell sprays, moving platforms, heating ducts, or even actors playing roles in your VR can be added to convince you of the realism of the experience.
With the assistance of this emerging technology, VR is steadily disrupting the way we consume information. The ability to engage the senses of sight, sound, smell, and touch means consumers no longer need to envision using your product. To an extent, they can now experience it.
Virtual Reality – Endless Applications
One of the greatest draws of VR is that we are able to explore new places without having to leave the comfort of home. That is the very meaning of convenience. Travel sites, destination resorts, visitors bureaus, cruises, airlines, and foreign exchange programs can all utilize Virtual Reality to sample a travel experience. Imagine walking down a Parisian avenue or being in the midst of Bangkok’s busy food vendors. VR can you bring you there. The potential for ads here is enormous.
Science, Medicine, Research & Development
The scientific and medical community is currently testing the use of VR to practice surgery and other invasive procedures. Likewise, R&D firms are using 3D models of components to problem solve (think of Iron Man’s gesture based interface). In using VR, both are able to save money, time, resources and ease the workload of their employees. It’s efficient. The use of 3D modeling without the cost of materials will be a major market in the future for design firms. As the tech develops we will begin to see lot’s of b2b marketing in these industries as the relationship between designers and these industries grows.
This is perhaps the most obvious one. The film, music, video games, sports, and streaming service industries are all developing ways to utilize virtual reality. Imagine putting on your headset and being transported to the middle of Coachella for a concert. Seeing the sights and sounds of your favorite band in the California Desert, with the ability to look and maybe even wander around a bit. Then as the set roars to a close – it cuts to black and is over. That’s one hell of a way to hook me into buying tickets for next year. Similarly, movies like The Conjuring 2 are utilizing ads to give people an “experience” of the film.
Consumer products are pretty straight forward in marketing. TV commercials have nearly perfected the way to draw in customers to buy their products. VR however, adds another layer to that. Instead of watching an Old Navy commercial in which people are modeling clothes, you could potentially put on a VR headset and see yourself in them. Or maybe you’ve been wanting to check out the newest Jeep Wrangler. Imagine being able to walk up to one – checking out the engine, interior, and then taking it for a test drive – all on your front porch. Some of these are a bit out of reach at the moment but the technology is getting there.
Fitness & Wellness
Alright, wearing a headset to simulate activity isn’t the best way to get in shape. But experiencing a workout aided by a headset can elevate your at-home workouts to new levels. Whether it’s doing your workouts in a completely new environment, on the beach or at a “gym,” or using games and programs to learn about technique in cycling, running, surfing, etc – VR can change up the way you stay healthy. These applications would’ve been great in the 90’s with Tae Bo, yoga programs to give a sample of their methodology. Or aid in cycling at home by showing you some great scenery. Companies and brands will be able to give consumers a better idea of how they can improve their health.
Virtual Reality gives us a new way to explore the world and everything in it. For those excited to get their hands on VR, it’s already available in products like Google Cardboard or Samsung Gear VR for your phone. The latter has a huge library of content available. As the technology develops and our culture adapts this tech, marketers will find new opportunities to put great products in front of consumers. In return, consumers will be able to experience these goods and services before purchasing. We’ve just added a shiny new tool to the marketers tool box.