In simple terms, Virtual Reality (VR) can be described as the latest digital technology that provides the users with an experience of being in another dimension altogether with the help of computer based simulation. Also referred to as ‘immersive reality’, VR has had a long term association with the gaming industry. The demand for VR in marketing is increasing every day due to its ability to get the audience closer and personal with specific products. Although VR was an out-of-reach technology initially, it is soon expected to lead the world in the near future.
According to Digital Marketing Institute, 75% of the major global brands have already incorporated VR into their marketing strategy, proving it to be a powerful tool for marketing. Though VR was initially used in the gaming sector, the latest development in digital technology has enabled it to be successfully implemented in leading sectors such as Education, Training, Healthcare, Tourism, Automotive etc. This also suggests, new avenues have been created for Advertising and Marketing in the respective fields, thanks to the advent of Virtual Reality.
Scope of VR in Marketing
One of the popular VR devices is the smartphone powered VR headsets, which is being used for many applications including gaming. Samsung has released a product called “Gear VR” that is used for gaming and to simulate virtual world. One can even experience skydiving with a simple VR headset. Due to the potential of VR to create an aesthetically driven environment, it can be widely used in shopping, home decors, gaming etc. It is estimated that by 2021, the global VR market will gather whopping revenue of USD 75 billion contributed by 300 million users. However, things will be done differently due to VR. For instance, VR creates a new platform for advertising. This means more e-commerce sales, more local business traffic and altered methods of content sharing will radically transform the scenario of the present digital marketing industry.
It is a well-accepted fact that advertisers and marketers are flexible in adapting to the ever-evolving digital landscape. Thus, VR will make them exceptionally significant as the initial adopters of this technology. As of now, experts have developed two main VR ad platforms namely VirutalSky and Immersv.
Tips on Marketing your Brand in VR
VR provides an exclusive opportunity for marketers to literally ‘immerse’ the audience into their product. However, if the ad quality is not up to the mark, then it not only impacts the audience with a negative impression (which is far more effective), but also sabotages their VR experience altogether. Hence, an excessive amount of creativity must be applied in advertising and marketing strategy. Some of the tips for marketing your services in VR are listed below:
Demonstrate your Services: Due to the unique features of VR, customers are experience using your product or services even before they buy it. A good example for this is IKEA. This home accessories company has introduced a VR kitchen experience that enables people to virtual interact and modify the kitchen. They can stand inside the kitchen and change the colour or position of objects and hence perceive it exactly before buying it. Such services will definitely increase user experience.
Submerse your Audience: Immerse them inside a narrative and provide travelling experience. If they find the virtual journey ‘mesmerizing or memorable’ they are certain to associate with your brand. For example, Marriott Hotels in collaboration with Framestore VR Studio developed a VR tourism experience where consumers in Hawaii experienced the scenic view of London. Such experiences can not only boost travel and tourism sectors, but also increases the brand equity.
Focus on Emotional Engagement: Storytelling is a power technique of gaining customers, especially when the emotion quotient is involved. People generally love listening to success stories and connect them with their lives. With the powerful advantage of ‘immersion’, VR can be used to maximum level to create stories that the customers can ‘witness’ in the virtual space. This again increases the brand loyalty. For example, New York Times had provided Google Cardboard Glasses to some of its readers through which they could watch VR videos. It screened a documentary called ‘The Displaced’ in which the viewers could intimately witness the lives of children in war zone. This emotionally triggered the intensity of the watching by a great extent.
Although there is no doubt that VR has a vast scope in marketing, there are still a lot of things that need to be considered with respect to consumer awareness, boosting the buying process, offering more personalized features to the users etc. But the growing number of VR users and industry estimations predict that there is immense scope for VR marketing. However, the direction in which it proceeds is still not clear at this point of time. Nonetheless, one can expect a great amount of creativity and innovation involved in advanced VR marketing.