Most people by now have probably heard of Virtual Reality. For those who are still confused about the technology, what it does is really simple and can be easily defined. According to Wikipedia, Virtual Reality can be defined as an environment that simulates a physical presence in places in the real world or an imagined world, allowing the user to interact with that world.
The movie industry has long predicted the advent of Virtual Reality – just like they predicted the smartphone and other cool technologies that have formed a fundamental part of the way we live. Of recent, Virtual Reality has begun to gain more traction. According to a research by Greenlight, 81% of those have tried it think it is cool. For the past few years since its inception, it has been largely consigned to nerds and early adopters. However, the increasing adoption rate of the masses has opened the door for marketers and professionals in other industries to tap into the potentials inherent in the technology.
For marketers, engaging with customers is proving more difficult due to the boot-load of information made available in this internet age. The future, however, is hard to predict – with new technologies ushering in better ways of connecting with customers. Below, I would like to highlight some of the key ways marketers will benefit from Virtual Reality if it eventually goes mainstream.
Rapid growth in fan base
Virtual reality has a way of overwhelming people on their first attempt at trying out the surreal technology. This wonderful effect is something brands can leverage upon. For brands that have recorded slow growth in fan base over the years, this is a technology that can provide a solution to their problem. For instance, taking sports brands as a case study, by providing followers with a real time experience of all the actions as they happen, VR will finally remove the roadblock they’ve been facing with regards to membership growth. Proximity to sporting stadiums where the real action happens has always been a huge challenge for most sports lovers. Even in industries like the hotel and real estate, providing more people with the feel-good experience can be made possible with Virtual Reality.
For brands that are apprehensive about the release of a new product or a change in design and aesthetics, Virtual Reality can allow customers to participate in the design and testing process; providing a more realistic feedback on their opinion of the product before manufacturing begins. In the gaming industry, for example, gamers can test a simulation of their favorite character to determine their level of satisfaction with newer versions of their favorite video games. Even car enthusiasts can take a virtual spin to determine their level of comfort in the latest model of their SUVs. It is all about connecting with users on a deeper and more realistic level – building trust and loyalty. Testing methodologies like these will eventually lead to an increase in long-term partnerships between brands and their customers.
One of the most attractive thing about virtual reality is the rich data it provides. In this data age, finding quality data to extrapolate and act on can be tasking for designers and manufacturers. With VR, the quality of data provided by users will be more refined leading to better design and products that contain fewer bugs. According to a research by SAS, data from VR technologies can help navigate the vast amount of business data being collected by big data tools. With such capabilities, it will be easier for manufacturers to navigate through the design process of their flagship products.
In the future, marketers will be better equipped with the sufficient information to take customer engagement to a greater level once VR becomes a part and parcel of our lives. However, it might be hard to predict how soon that will become a reality.