Virtual Reality (‘VR’) gives marketers the opportunity to give their audience the closest experience they can get from a product, service or place without actually physically being there. 

As the lines between the physical and virtual worlds get increasingly blurred, VR presents marketers with an ideal way to engage their customers. 

As Gartner’s Hype Cycle has revealed that VR is now on the ‘Slope of Enlightenment’, here are 10 ways enlightened marketers can start using VR right now.

Tangible experiences

How does a hotel, cruise or holiday company convince someone that it can offer an amazing experience when the person has never tried it?

A brochure or website gets you so far, but actually taking them to the destination and allowing them to walk around the accommodation, to look at the views, to be in the experiences, that’s the sort of tangible experience that gives a real sense of what it would be like and sells it like no other medium.

Marriott Hotels has been offering newly married couples VR honeymoon experiences.

Product experiences

How do you convince someone your product is better than previous versions or the competition?

For a car, the test drive is considered the best selling tool there is. But getting them to a show room or experience can be tough and getting the right car and configuration available, even tougher.

VR can let them configure the car to their needs and take it for a personal test drive, from anywhere at any time.

Lexus has done just that for the launch of the Lexus NX.

Educational experiences

For brands that are proud of the way their product is produced, VR can provide a way of creatively showing a production process.

Educating consumers in the brand in an immersive way demonstrates the craft, and consumers are increasingly interested in learning about the origin and backstories of the products they buy.

This is the approach taken by the Hacienda Patrón tequila distillery which offers consumers a 360-degree 'The Art of Patrón' Virtual Reality Experience at Patrón events, educational seminars, retailers and on the Art of Patrón website.  

Commercial opportunities 

Imagine if you could sell the best seat at a stadium or theatre as many times as you like? VR presents the tantalising possibility to do this.

Through live streaming content from a match or performance, people anywhere in the world could have access to what it feels like to be at the event even if they are thousands of miles away.

The NBA are cooperating with Samsung to bring live basketball experiences to their global fan base.

Product extension 

VR offers brands the opportunity to extend a brand’s range of products by creating their own VR experiences or products or branding existing products to make them their own.

Dior is making its own branded VR viewer. Others are branding cardboard-based viewers like the 10x Spex.

Retail experiences 

The retail sector has the challenge of adapting to trends such as showrooming which means consumers might go elsewhere to make a purchase. So why not go further and give your shoppers a whole retail world to explore in VR?

Wow them and inspire them to buy your products. Ted Baker added theatre and talkability to a Regent Street store opening through offering VR experiences via cardboard VR viewers

Event experiences 

Associating your brand with an event through sponsorship is something a lot of companies do. Increasingly though brands are looking for ways to be more closely involved with the event rather than just putting their name on a shirt, a ball or some hoardings.

Providing immersive VR experiences for your audience alongside events can deepen the brand engagement and it can extend it well beyond a physical venue. Red Bull offers VR experiences alongside its extreme flying races so fans can experience what it is like to be in the plane, not just watch it.

Recruitment

Recruiting the right people can be challenging. Giving people a sense of what it would be like to do the job can help attract the right candidates and see if they are made of the right stuff.

The US Air Force is giving possible recruits the chance to virtually fly a fighter jet.

Market research

Investing in a new physical space is a huge undertaking, whether it's a new store, a cinema or shopping centre. So being able to understand how your customers feel about navigating such things as your new planned layout, colour scheme and product range is vital.

Surveys and panels, even equipped with 3D visualisations, only give a limited amount of insight. However a full VR experience can give a much more holistic, accurate and compelling set of insights.

Tesco created a virtual store so people could walk round it before it was built.

Relationship building 

An opportunity that has yet to be exploited in any significant way with VR is the potential offered by the delivery of VR content to apps. This is of particular relevance to VR viewers powered by smartphones, but could be relevant to any VR offering ‘VR as a service’.

With a sufficiently desirable content theme or series, regular updates could be delivered to the VR user over a period of time.

This would give brands additional opportunities to communicate with consumers. It could also change the relationship of viewers and content, as people could pay for the content rather than the viewer.

If you want to learn more about VR for marketing, check out Econsultancy’s Marketer’s Guide to Virtual Reality. 

Martin Talks

Published 15 June, 2015 by Martin Talks

Martin Talks is Founder at 10x Army and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (3)

Frank Welsch-Lehmann

Frank Welsch-Lehmann, Digital Marketing Consultant at Welsch-Lehmann COMMUNICATION

Good ideas! Marketeers need to come out of their silos and get ready to empbrace exciting upcoming marketing technology #martech !

over 2 years ago

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Ragavi Roy, content writer at Amtex

Excellent approach. It offers great customer flexibility and allows business to develop more personal relationships with their customers thereby cover large mass of audience.

Ragavi Roy
Ecbilla

over 2 years ago

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Khushboo Mittal, Category Manager at Sysco Guest Supply

Hi,

We would like to use VR to market some of your innovative product offering in textiles. Any suggestion on how do we start?

almost 2 years ago

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