Virtual Reality: Does It Have a Place in the Marketing World?

23 June 2016
Published: By: Amy Honeywell



Digital marketing is a world that is constantly evolving. The more we experiment the more doors open to us, leading to innovative and extraordinary campaigns and results. For the past few years virtual reality has been on the horizon, with many larger companies dipping their toes into the prospect of virtual reality marketing. This novel approach is reported to be highly effective, with the VR industry predicted to take off exponentially in the coming decade.

Benefits of VR:

The benefits of virtual reality marketing seem to grow by the day, offering an impactful, memorable experience to users. As the technology becomes more accessible to the public, the realm of possibilities for this industry just keeps on growing, with companies such as HBO, Toms, and Mercedes already utilising the upward curve of this trend.

From engaging younger audiences, to using virtual reality technology to teach and inform the public, the benefits seem to be versatile and malleable to each unique campaign. We have pulled together a selection of great virtual reality marketing campaigns, run by industry leaders across the world, to offer you an insight into exactly what is successful when it comes to this approach.

Engage a younger audience

As industries continue to evolve, appealing to a younger audience is becoming more and more important. Virtual reality marketing is a great way to engage young adults, as millennials are notorious for technology adoption.

In 2016, Mercedes US used virtual reality marketing to engage millennials, hoping to boost their sales to a younger generation. Working with renowned Youtuber Kelly Lund and his dog Loki, Mercedes created a 360 degree virtual reality video of the pair’s trip to the snowy mountains of Colorado. The two minute film featured Mercedes’ up and coming 2017 GLS sport utility vehicle. The contemporary cast and the fun image of the brand helps to engage both their existing audience as well as a newer, younger crowd.

The success of the campaign speaks for itself, with over 40% of the Mercedes’ US site visitors fall into the 18-34 age bracket. The videos have been viewed collectively over 4 million times across various platforms, and continue to be watched by potential customers.

Immersive education

Virtual reality technology has been used to educate users by various companies, using the immersive platform to communicate a story on a deeper and more meaningful level. The New York Times used VR technology to carry out their ‘The Displaced’ campaign. This was not aimed at selling a product, but rather it was used to educate the public on the impacts of war on people in different countries. In 2015, The New York Times distributed over 1 million Google Cardboard viewers to their Sunday home delivery subscribers, alongside the release of a virtual reality film. By appealing to the curiosity of human beings, The New York Times managed to educate individuals beyond the standard news story, letting users see and feel far more than they could do before.

Another example of this comes from the shoe company, TOMS. TOMS created a similar campaign, aimed at educating customers about the TOMS process, and who their shoes were helping across the world. In their flagship store in Venice, California, TOMS created a virtual reality ‘giving trip’, where customers could sit next to the shoe section and experience a trip to a remote village in Peru. This offered a powerful message to users, showing them that their purchase makes a difference to those worse off than themselves. This emotional, memorable virtual reality campaign worked wonders with taking people closer to the ethos of the brand. It is also a great way to close sales, with customers feeling more invested in the cause after taking part in the virtual reality campaign.

Give people access to things they would otherwise have missed

We have all felt the disappointment of missing out on tickets to see our favourite band, clicking refresh on our browsers until we can’t feel our finger tip, only to be told that it’s too late. One of the major benefits of virtual reality technology is that we can experience events we otherwise may have missed. Back in 2014, Topshop capitalised on this concept, offering a handful of competition winners the opportunity to watch their exclusive fashion runway show during the London Fashion Week from their flagship store in London.

The event saw 100s of people turn up to experience the show, and it won several awards for being the best virtual event of the year. This is a great example of a brand using virtual reality technology to offer customers something desirable and exclusive. Topshop were the first company to offer this type of experience using the Oculus Rift, and what a great way to start the virtual reality adventure.

The future?

In 2015, the market for virtual reality products was valued at $1.37 billion, however this is expected to soar, increasing to $33.9 billion by 2022. This expected rapid growth can be attributed to consumer interest, which is very much fuelled by marketing companies experimenting with interesting and new campaigns, showcasing their clients in a whole new light.

How will virtual reality technology impact the way we go about our day-today lives? Virtual reality products offer a whole new window of opportunity for a wide range of industries. With virtual reality gaming already taking the world by storm thanks to the commercial release of the Oculus Rift earlier this year, who is to say when this evolution will stop? As the marketing techniques used by leading businesses develop, we are in a position where we have to hit the ground running in order to keep up with the frontrunners in this new age of marketing.

Did this article get you thinking? Why not take a look at our other blog posts to learn more about the digital marketing world.

 




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