Introducing your customers to the world of virtual reality

October 17, 2016

Virtual reality (VR) is now well and truly up and running. Both Sony and Google have unveiled new VR headsets in the past few weeks, which will compete against the Oculus Rift and Samsung’s VR Gear.

Marketers can ignore the technology no longer. That isn’t to say you need to be creating VR content right now, but it should be part of the discussion going forward.

A number of big brands have already produced some impressive VR experiences, knowing full well that their content will benefit from the novelty factor that is inevitable when a new piece of technology comes onto the scene.

The success of these brands’ VR content has, in part, seen Econsultancy dub VR the content marketing trend for 2017. As far as it is concerned, it’s “only a matter of time” before VR headsets are adopted by consumers en masse – there’s no way Google and the like would be investing so heavily in the technology, if they didn’t think it had mainstream capabilities.

Econsultancy is not alone in thinking that VR’s time in imminent, with the Telegraph calling the PlayStation VR “the headset to make VR mainstream”.

Ahead of 2017, then, is a good time to seek some inspiration on what constitutes exciting, immersive VR content. Econsultancy suggests looking at the brands that have already figured out how:

Jaguar

Jaguar managed to scoop the ‘Steve Wozniak Award for Tech Excellence’ at this year’s Masters of Marketing 2016, by transporting tennis fans onto Centre Court at Wimbledon.

The VR content in question currently has over two million views on YouTube. It puts viewers in the position of current Wimbledon Champion Andy Murray, allowing them to get a sense of what it is like to play on Centre Court in front of 15,000 fans.

Volvo

Volvo used the technology for more obvious reasons, putting viewers in the cockpit of its new CX-90 vehicle, essentially allowing them to test drive it without having to physically step in the car.

For consumers, having a virtual test drive means they can eliminate the cars that are not right for them without having to head to the showroom – physically test driving a shortlist of vehicles instead.

Volvo’s customers must have been mightily impressed by the virtual test drive of the CX-90 – it sold out its run of orders in two days of launching.

Marriott Hotel Group

VR has some serious potential for persuading consumers to make a purchase. In order to manufacture some wanderlust in its customers, international hotel group Marriott ‘teleported’ them to far-away destinations, allowing them to experience exotic places like Hawaii ‘first hand’.

It invited people off the street to step inside its ‘teleporter machine’ and get a taste for what a honeymoon in Hawaii would be like, via HR headsets. Participants are visibly taken aback by Marriott’s content, suggesting it was successful in creating something truly immersive.

While these brands undoubtedly benefit from an impressive marketing reach, the success of their VR campaigns – even Marriott’s video which simply shows participants’ reactions has over 230,000 views on YouTube – illustrates the benefits of being an early adopter.

Many consumers are still yet to try any form of VR content, but that looks set to change imminently. Sony’s PlayStation VR is compatible with the existing 40 million PS4s already in use. Google’s new Daydream headset, meanwhile, promises to deliver “immersive and richly interactive experiences”, while its existing Cardboard headset is designed for “quick, bitesize experiences”.

It’s getting to the point where there’s a VR headset to suit all needs, suggesting mainstream adoption is just around the corner. Will you be the brand to give your customers their first VR experience?

Dan Vivian - Business Development & Marketing Director