Today’s digital marketers have an uphill battle ahead of them: cutting through the noise online and making a positive impression on potential customers. Creative ads only go so far, with the majority of younger Americans ignoring or even blocking ads in their browsers. VR (virtual reality) is gaining traction among marketers for its remarkable ability to immerse customers and help their brand stand out from the crowd. Here are a few ways they’re using VR to boost customer satisfaction, and in the long term, sales.
Traveling exhibitions and convention booths are some of the venues marketers have been using to test out their VR campaigns. Providing an immersive VR entertainment experience is a great way to keep brands top of mind with their target audience. For example, HBO’s Game of Thrones is massively popular in part to the over-the-top marketing efforts they put behind the show—including a traveling exhibition complete with VR. Visitors could actually visit the frigid wall of ice, with the exhibition featuring both visual VR and the sensation of cold gusts of wind and movement of the wall’s elevator!
Bringing an Audience In
Interactive VR can help customers see what they’re getting before they jump right in on a purchase. IKEA’s VR content allows customers to virtually renovate their kitchens before they take the scary step of spending the money and actually starting the remodeling process. This kind of personalization invests potential customers in what IKEA’s products can do for them, and gets them excited about the possibilities.
NYU is also using VR to woo their top applicants. Sending applicants who have been accepted a pair of cardboard glasses and a VR app, NYU brings students to Mars—and lets them pilot a vehicle across the terrain. Bringing their audience in using VR is the perfect way to help the school stand out from their competitors.
Showcasing Brand Goals
These days, business innovation, sustainability, and ethics are three driving forces behind customer spending. Many people are more likely to buy a product if the company producing it is committed to making a better planet. For that reason, VR has been a very convincing tool for TOMS marketing, which has installed a “VR” chair in their flagship store that brings customers into a remote Peruvian village on a mission: to give. Customers leave the experience with warmer feelings toward the brand and a reinforced image of their corporate goals—giving shoes to children in need (sell a pair, give a pair).
The Future of VR in Marketing
The VR and AR market combined are estimated to reach $150 billion by 2020. Unfortunately, there currently aren’t many statistics about the monetary success or ROI (return on investment) of VR just yet, since the technology is still in its infancy, and VR is only now starting to become mainstream. VR and AR have stirred up a lot of interest among consumers lately, thanks to accessibility improvements (think Pokemon GO, Google (GOOG) cardboard AR glasses, and the Oculus Rift/Samsung headset) and more information available than ever before. VR will only become more important in a marketer’s toolkit as creating content becomes less expensive, and we see more mobile options for consumers. For now? The marketers using VR have a huge advantage—because they’re trailblazing into the future.