Virtual Reality; Virtually The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread?
You may have noticed that Virtual Reality is having quite the moment in the sun right now. With Virtual Reality, as well as Augmented Reality, branching into a variety of industries in 2017, it’s interesting to think about where VR could be taking the future of marketing.
Virtual reality is used to describe a 3D or computer generated environment in which a person can interact with their surroundings. If you’re now picturing a person wearing one of those really attractive goggle hat things, blindly swiping at the air, then you’re on the right track. > [
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This new tech is already making huge waves in the gaming industry, as an even more immersive way to experience gaming. Other industries are also getting involved: using VR for educational purposes in schools such as medical schools, in experiential marketing, theme parks, real estate, construction, and interior design. However, while VR seems to be the new craze right now, it’s actually been hanging around in the background since 1991. Since then, it’s been rebooted by Occulus Rift and then picked up by Facebook.
AR stands for Augmented Reality, which is something slightly different. AR does not involve a completely fabricated environment but instead incorporates elements of digital information with the user’s real environment (if you’re confused, think back to the Pokemon Go craze of 2016).
AR in particular is an interesting technology for marketers as, unlike VR, it does not require a head-mounted display. IKEA is already making great use of Augmented Reality to help customers envisage how potential purchases will look in their home. This foray into Augmented Reality was launched after IKEA realised 14% of customers were making returns because their new furniture was the wrong size. IKEA’s new app directly combats this issue.
However, there are some substantially more ostentatious examples of VR and AR within marketing. Just this May, Topshop’s Oxford Circus store went ‘all out’ in creating a VR experience water slide to celebrate the beginning of summer. While the slide is actually real, looping it’s way around the store, the added VR element makes the ‘slide-rider’ think they’re gliding around london instead.
This isn’t even the first time Topshop has gotten experimental with VR tech, having previously used VR in-store to allow customers to virtually attend their London Fashion Week Catwalk. Pretty neat, huh?
BMW and Volvo are also getting involved with VR by allowing people to ‘test drive’ their cars using the technology. Customers can now go for a spin in new and future cars, get a feel for the vehicle, and take it for a cruise around some scenic areas.
Uh...well actually, yeah. Carnival Corp are making use of VR to give people a taste of what it’s like to be aboard a cruise ship, hoping to convince people to consider a cruise for their next holiday and leave them thirsty for a few more sips of the experience. Likewise, some 5 star hotels are also giving customers the chance to check out their hotels before booking a holiday.
It’s not just B2C businesses that can benefit from this exciting use of new technology, with B2B companies now able to use VR to provide demos at events, showcase venues, office spaces, homes and much more.
VR and AR are providing new and exciting ways to do business: it seems highly likely that this technology is here to stay and not just a ‘fad’. With potential customers able to more accurately evaluate potential purchases, and marketers able to create experiences that are more fun and memorable, we can imagine we’ll be seeing a lot more of this technology in the months and years that follow.
The imagination boggles right? What part of VR or AR gets you most excited? Let us know over on twitter using the handle @ContentCal_io
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