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Break the Barriers of the Real World – Virtual Reality in Marketing Strategy

21 November 2018 | Katarzyna Stachyra | martech omnichannel

Is virtual reality the better suited one for presenting products and services? See how brands use technologies of virtual reality and augmented reality in their marketing strategies.

From the article you will learn:

  • what is virtual reality and what is augmented reality;
  • how can you use virtual reality in marketing activities;
  • what are the benefits of using virtual reality;
  • if virtual reality is the better suited one for presenting products and services.

It is expected that by 2020, ⅓ of global consumers will use the opportunities offered by virtual and augmented reality. There will be an increasing number of more and more cheaper devices on the market, which means that the content available in this form will also be accessible to a mass audience. Some companies are already aware that it is worth taking into account this technology when creating a marketing strategy. See the possibilities of marketing activities employing virtual reality.

Virtual reality and augmented reality

Virtual reality means the technologies that generate a fully artificial environment. It consists of image, sound, and sometimes – even touch or smell. The displayed image is seen in a manner similar to the behaviour of our eyes, thanks to which the recipient can fully immerse themselves in the created world.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, combines the real world with the virtual world, and the created image is superimposed on the real one. While in this case the elements are static, the so-called mixed reality (combining virtual reality and augmented reality) is characterised by high interactivity with the user.

Examples of using virtual reality in marketing activities

Virtual reality was initially associated mainly with the computer games industry. Thanks to the fact that the player can fully immerse themselves in a virtual reality, it is possible to provide players with more intense experience. With time, it began to gain popularity in other industries, such as medicine or automotive.

Currently, regardless of the industry, virtual reality is more and more frequently used by brands in marketing activities. There is nothing strange about it, considering the fact that artificial reality can affect practically every sense, and reach the recipient more intensively.

Below you will find examples of how you can take advantage of the opportunities offered by integrating virtual reality technology in marketing activities.

See the product from all sides

Although the undoubted advantage of online stores is the ability to do shopping without leaving your home, sometimes the lack of the possibility to thoroughly check the goods before purchase turns out to be an obstacle. With the implementation of 360-degree films, it is possible to present the full appearance of an item, accurately define visual characteristics and parameters, and check the functionality by the consumer in person. Such a solution is used, among others, by the eBay platform, that wants the virtual shopping to be simple and – first and foremost – convenient for their clients.

See your future home

During a presentation of an apartment, developers can use the fact that virtual reality allows the clients to take a virtual walk around the real estate that is still under construction and arrange it in their own way. This was also used by IKEA, which provides its clients with the opportunity to "try" furniture in their apartment before buying it. Thanks to the use of artificial reality, you can check whether the new armchair will go well with your current sofa, and whether there is enough space for a cabinet between the table and the window.

Experience the pleasure of travelling

Artificial reality also allows you to see a real place that is actually thousands of kilometres away from you. It was used by the Marriott hotel chain in their campaign addressed to newlyweds, who – after putting on the glasses – were taken to perfect places for spending a honeymoon, scattered all over the world. Apart from exotic landscapes, the participants could also visit the interior of the chain's hotel located there.

Try a new car model

By employing the virtual reality technology, you can experience a test drive, or feel what it is like to be a driver of the fastest car in the world. Volvo used this to promote the new model of Volvo XC90 – after downloading the application, everyone could take part in a test drive of the new model.

Learn the history of a product

Through virtual reality, you can get to better know the process of creating a given product, or the course of the service being provided. Customers attach increasing importance to openness in the activities of companies, and the inspired trust makes it easier for them to make a purchase decision.

The Toms Shoes company is known for the fact that with each sold pair of shoes, they give away one pair for people in need. As part of the ‘A walk in their shoes’ campaign they wanted to share the feelings experienced during these activities with their clients. With the help of artificial reality, customers of a stationary store could experience a trip to a small Peruvian village and experience the emotions that accompany helping those in need.

Swing by an Irish pub

Virtual reality goggles can be a link between the ordinary world and the one created by a brand. This approach can be perfectly seen in the Old Irish Beer brand campaign, in which the participants were taken to Ireland, being able to see its nooks and crannies using VR goggles. At that time, the staff was putting together around them parts of a special installation, which looked like a typical Irish pub. After taking the glasses off, the participants of the campaign found themselves to be in the same place in the real world, in which they were just a moment ago in the virtual world. This campaign is a good example of how technology can connect the virtual world with the real world.

Benefits of using virtual reality

Virtual reality brings many benefits for both – the brand and its recipients, for example:

  • it gives a possibility to present an absent product - even in the case of lacking a physical product, it can be presented in an innovative and non-standard way, showing its visual characteristics and parameters to the client. It also gives the opportunity to present the product before the date of its actual creation;
  • it ensures maximum immersion - with the help of artificial reality, clients can completely immerse themselves in the virtual world, experiencing positive sensations. This allows you to create positive emotions related to the product before its purchase;
  • it enables marketing without barriers - distance is not important when establishing contact with a potential client, because the entire process of presenting the product or service takes place in a digitally generated world. Thanks to this, there are no geographical or time restrictions, as the consumer can learn about the product or service even without having to leave the house;
  • it gives a possibility to gain valuable suggestions from the recipients - obtaining feedback from consumers is possible even before the actual product or service is introduced to the market. The information can be used to correct possible errors or improve the offered product or service;
  • it increases the range of the customer segment - the use of artificial reality still arouse the interest of consumers who are always open to new experiences. It is also easier to introduce innovative activities that attract attention and have a widespread effect.

Is virtual reality the better suited one for presenting products and services?

Conducting activities in virtual reality gives marketers more opportunities. It not only makes it easier to reach more consumers, but also allows for a greater variety of activities that can have a stronger impact on the emotions and reception of a product or service.

Marketing activities in artificial reality are not intended to replace the existing ones. Instead of pushing out the traditional marketing activities, they should rather be treated as an additional platform for the implementation of creative ideas. Virtual reality technologies are a perfect addition to the brand's marketing strategy.

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