Virtual reality is slowly creeping through the news articles, and is being eaten up by gadget lovers. But is it a viable marketing strategy, and should you be looking into it?
We’re going to take a look at why virtual reality has grabbed our interest, what you can do with it and who has done it well so far.
(Please note that all videos within this blog post will play with better quality and sound on VR devices. So don’t be alarmed if they appear a little blurry if you are watching on a computer!)
So why is it good?
Well, it’s a completely immersive experience that allows you to capture your audience’s attention completely without distraction, a marketers dream!
If you haven’t tried virtual reality before, it’s quite something to explain.
I was quite sceptical of this before I tried it, but after trying the Samsung VR headset, I have to say I am completely converted. It really is amazing to be somewhere completely different, but not really, and I can completely understand why it is catching on, especially in the gaming market.
So how can companies use it?
The great thing with VR is it can be used for anything. Just on a whole other level to what we have experienced before.
For example, if you own a shop, and have a showroom, you could have customers taking virtual tours of your showroom without even leaving their living room.
Your potential customers could have real demonstrations set up right in front of them without you needing to be anywhere near them.
You could expand football matches or gigs far past the capacity of their stadiums or arenas. Opening up the opportunity for so many more people to attend, and give more opportunities to those or perhaps can’t leave the house.
You could even use it to give tours of your building or a day in the life of, for a new recruit, or client to experience. They would be able to see if they would fit in, or like the way you work.
There really are a huge amount of opportunities available, for any business who feels they can take on the virtual reality challenge.
What does it cost?
Now there are two costs here, one for companies to be able to create these videos and experiences, and one for audiences being able to experience them.
For a consumer, the cost can vary. From pricey headsets available from the likes of Oculus Rift, to the cardboard cut-outs that have been shown from McDonalds and New York times. Meaning it could really be a viable way for brands to reach customers.
For companies though, you would have to consider splashing out further than your average video for your website, and look at filming a full experience for your customers.
A look at this article from online video talks about the costs associated for producing a 360 video. As well as some other considerations when approaching 360. However, with more low budget options now available, don’t shoot the idea down just yet. This article from digital arts online looks at all you would need to shoot a 360-degree video. So is well worth a look if you are seriously considering this as an option.
Who has used it so far?
There are articles from both Forbes and mybronic that contain loads of great examples of companies using virtual reality. They are really worth a gander at. But we’ve picked a few of our favourites from these to show you on this blog.
Lowe’s has really got this in the bag already. They use their “Holorooms” to help customers really visualize their plans for home improvement. They select what colours and fixtures and placement they want, and they can view it, in 360, in their own rooms dimensions. Pretty nifty ey?
The best bit? Not only can you view this in store on their oculus rift headsets, you can then take the view of your room home on your phone. Then view it through the google cardboard headset that is provided by Lowe’s. Keeping their customers excited about their home improvements. Allowing them to share that experience with others, and getting people talking. More people then visit Lowe’s Holorooms. An incredible use of the virtual reality opportunity.
Michelle Obama’s VR Video
Michelle Obama’s video, produced by The Verge shows how you can enhance educational topics or news items to be completely immersive. Giving you the opportunity to provide a large amount of information for viewers without overwhelming them.
Young people in education could see the video that engages them. Also surrounded by all the valuable information they need to absorb too. Without the distraction of other class mates, or TV or their phones.
This format could also be adopted by companies to show their company values, or story. Though TOMS does a pretty great job of company story video below:
Merrell really put people in their shoes with their virtual reality walkaround. To promote their new footwear range, Merrell got customers in their shoes, in a headset, and sent them for the most dangerous walk of their lives.
This allows customers to really trial the product without ever actually buying it. The modern day equivalent to a boat salesman describing the beautiful waves and the wind in your hair, you can actually experience it for yourself and make an informed decision.
Perhaps a little too much to set up for every product in your store. But to hype your new product release, this could be a really good option.
Isn’t this just for techy companies?
Not quite. Though you may need to hire or work with a ‘techy’ company to get the finished product, you really can be any company and produce a virtual reality video or experience. Take soft cheese supplier Boursin as a prime example. You wouldn’t perhaps associate cheese with virtual reality, but their 360 animated advertisement takes users on a thrilling journey through their fridge.
What do we think?
It is certainly not something to be brushed off. There is (as there always has been) something to be said for a completely immersive experience.
And in an age where companies are constantly battling for audience’s attention, being able to catch that completely and utterly will certainly do wonders for companies.
However, the cost and complications associated are a huge barrier. Also there is an air that it is still considered a ‘fad’, so if this is done, it needs to be done really well to win people over.
If you have the motive, the capability and the budget, go for it. If you are just trying to keep up with the jones’s, it may be better to see what happens in the VR market over the next few months.
For any of your marketing needs, contact the experts at The Marketing People. We get to know you and your business, and create opportunities for you to make your business successful.