Since I talked about Artificial Intelligence last time, today let’s take a look at what’s going on in the world of Virtual Reality and how it’s being used for marketing. Virtual Reality (VR) is still fairly new technology but it will advance in the coming months and years to become more widely used. If things continue on the present path, the Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality markets will be worth billions by 2020.
The idea behind using Virtual Reality in marketing is to allow the potential customer/client to become immersed in the user experience. Not surprisingly, the automotive industry uses this technology quite frequently with the aim of giving the customer the experience of driving one of their vehicles before ever taking the car off the lot.
But you’re an SMB, not a giant corporation with a huge budget, you protest! Well, there are still ways to put Virtual Reality experiences to work for you, one of the easiest being to employ 360 video. Made to capture everything around the operator, 360 videos provide the experience of what it’s like to use the product. While most immersive when using a VR headset, 360 video is also adaptable to mobile and computer screens. The customer/client uses the mouse or their finger to “look around” as the user experience is happening.
This technology can also be used for capturing experiences, such as what it’s like for a client to visit your office. Have someone film a typical interaction from the client/customer perspective to give potential customers a better feel for what it’s really like to work with your company.
Seeing Is Believing
Perhaps you do custom work of some kind. In this case, take video of the entire production process and then edit it in time-lapse fashion to show customers the process of creating your product. It often looks really easy to make or do something when all of the behind-the-scenes steps are hidden, so if your product gets comments about the price-point, showing the entire process can give your customers a much better idea of just how much time and care goes into the end result. (That may not be Virtual Reality in the truest sense, but it is indeed a more immersive experience.)
There’s another place in marketing that will see a rise in the use of Virtual Reality, and that’s market research. Market researchers will use VR to help determine how to best market their products and services. Seeing their products through the eyes of customers, they will be able to view possible store layouts and therefore create better, more effective product placement. The insights gained should make the overall customer experience more gratifying for everyone, plus using feedback from VR “shopping trips” could be a time and money saver. Sure, there’s an initial layout for the equipment, but imagine being able to expand your test market without having to ship your product all over the globe. (Because sometimes a product that does really well in one place doesn’t do so in another, imagine saving yourself the hassle of shipping product out, having it not sell well, then having to bring it all back—while your stores in another part of the world can’t keep that product in stock!)
Presenting the Bounty of Shopping Without the Bother
Taking your VR market research back to the consumer, brands will be able to offer a better, more immersive customer experience even to home shoppers. Because many people still enjoy or want the experience of going to the store and getting to see an array of products right in front of them, capturing that in a Virtual Reality scenario will enable marketers to place related products in front of customers, potentially leading to more add-on sales simply because the customer will be exposed to additional products in a way that feels more natural, due to the more immersive experience. Virtual shopping experiences presently range from the fairly simple “store walk-through” to being able to virtually experience picking up the product, looking at the packaging, and dropping it into the shopping cart! It will be interesting to see if a more immersive virtual shopping experience will lead to more and better sales. I don’t know about you, but if I could do VR holiday shopping from the comfort of my desk with no crowded mall, I’d be ECSTATIC.
Have you experienced VR? Comment below your thoughts. Let’s discuss it.
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