One of the most interesting technological innovations to impact the digital marketing landscape over the last few years is virtual reality (VR).
VR uses high-end graphics to create an artificial, computer generated environment that the user can interact with and manipulate via audio and aural sensations, giving them the feeling as though they’re in the real world. Usually to experience the virtual world the user usually must put on a specialized headset.
Despite VR not going mainstream in digital marketing just yet, brands have started to experiment with it. Trying to find a way to create more personalised and engaging experiences for their customers with it.
Below are some of the ways in which brands are trying to make use of virtual reality.
A few years ago, The New York Times used VR to in an attempt to connect with a younger, more dynamic audience.
They gave away a million Google Cardboard viewers to all of its Sunday newspaper subscribers and began a virtual storytelling campaign so that they could watch “The Displaced” an 11-minute VR video that highlighted children around the world who had been displaced by war and conflict.
This allowed the readers to be immersed and really engage with the story in a fresh new way, bringing the story to life for them, opposed to just reading it. A whole new younger audience was brought in from this and ended up making “The Displaced” a viral sensation, which went on to win the Entertainment Grand Prix at the Cannes Lions Festival in 2016.
Opening their doors to VR allowed The New York Times to attract a whole new younger audience, if used this could do the same for your business.
The American company Lowe’s implemented a VR marketing strategy that they called “Holoroom”. This allowed customers in certain areas to use Oculus Rift or Google Carboard to see what a remodelling project with all their unique selections would look like.
These Holorooms were limited in number, so Lowe’s decided that it needed to offer a way for online users to be able to have the same experience. Now people can use Google Cardboard to experience the same VR that is available in the Holorooms.
Lowe’s using VR allows customers to see the results of their potential investment before they actually make a purchase, which results in much happier customers, who are more likely to make other purchases.
From this it is clear how useful VR is in helping consumers visualise how certain products and services work before making a purchase.
The shoe company Toms has branded itself as a shoe and accessory company that is all about helping and giving to those less fortunate.
To drive home its values, the company has recently added an area in their stores where customers can put on a VR headset and immediately be immersed in Peru, to a small village where the company gave away free shoes. This use of VR perfectly marketed Tom’s core values as it allows customers to see how every purchase that they make helps to make a difference to people in need.
Using VR allowed Toms to communicate its brand mission effectively to its customers in an immersive and emotional way, which is something other companies are not doing. VR is extremely useful for expressing your core values by providing people with the “why” of your company, rather than the “what”.
Experience – The Key to Customer Engagement
VR allows users to fully immerse themselves in an experience, whether it be emotional, intriguing or funny – it makes the user feel.
Harnessing this experience and using it to engage with customers allows them to interact with brands in ways that they haven’t been able to do before, bringing them closer together because of the shared experience.