21 MinutesDecember 6, 2021

Virtual reality has been steadily gaining momentum over the past few years. As of 2018, 78% were familiar with virtual reality technology. Today, nearly 60 million people use virtual reality each month in 2021. With the recent announcement of Facebook’s moving into the Meta-verse, the virtual reality market is predicted to explode, with the IDC predicting VR shipments to reach 26.7 million shipments a year by 2025. 

Virtual and augmented reality is going to change the face of marketing. Brands are already starting to incorporate this technology into their marketing with great success. This article will explore exactly how virtual and augmented reality is going to change marketing, and will reference how some brands are a step ahead with incorporating this technology into their marketing strategies.

What is Virtual and Augmented Reality?

Virtual reality started with the use of panoramic paintings and stereoscopic image in the early 1900s. Predictions about virtual reality started in the science fiction realm in the 1920s, when science fiction writer Stanley G. Weinbaum wrote Pygmalion’s Spectacles. Computer scientist Ivan Sutherland and his student Bob Sproull invested the first virtual reality head-mounted display system in 1968. Virtual reality continued to move forward with the creation of multiple flight simulators and the MIT Movie Map of 1977.

Today, virtual reality is booming in popularity. Every day, new games, virtual reality technologies and other augmented marketing campaigns are being released. Virtual reality shopping reached new heights following the COVID-19 pandemic. In Australia alone, 44% of consumers say they are more willing to use virtual reality to shop thanks to the pandemic.

Today, virtual reality is all about placing consumers in a computer-generated world. It separates the consumer from the real world and immerses them in the virtual experience. Popular examples of this include VR headsets and virtual reality game offerings.

Augmented reality, on the other hand, involves bringing computer-generated content into the real world. Customers are able to see how digital products would fit in their home, or see what a specific pair of shoes looks like with their outfit, without leaving their home.

Both offer a new, unique way to market products and services to consumers. Virtual and augmented reality is growing more and more popular every single day. In order to offer a unique experience for consumers, businesses need to start incorporating virtual reality into their marketing strategy.

How’s virtual and augmented reality changing marketing? Let’s explore.

› Virtual Reality: Better Customer Experience

Virtual reality means there is a wealth of opportunities for providing an enhanced customer experience. VR means customers can see products at their real scale and experience how they work, improving conversion. VR also reduces the barriers many brands face is persuading customers to use their product or service.

Customer service can be carried out via virtual reality. Offering virtual offices and making it easier than ever before to talk to a real person online, VR means brands can solve customer queries faster than ever before. Cadillac is doing this well with their virtual dealerships, which allow customers to shop their range and speak with salespeople without leaving their homes.

History of VR/AR

› Augmented Reality and the Ability to Virtually Try-On' Products

Virtual Reality technology allows for the potential for consumers to virtually ‘try-on’ products before they buy them. Currently, many brands are using this technology straight from mobile phones. Ikea offers Ikea Place, which allows you to browse Ideas catalog of products and use your mobile phones camera to place the products digitally within your home. This means customers are able to see what the product may look like in the space prior before buying it.

VR headsets and controllers may be used in the future to offer a tactile trying on experience. This technology will be continually developed into the future, and brands should start figuring out how they can use this technology to provide better customer experience. Here are some potential uses for this technology:

  • Allowing customers to ‘try-on’ your product.
  • Allowing customers to walk-through homes, spaces, and other large-scale projects.
  • Letting customers experience the product through virtual reality.

› Virtual and Augmented Reality: Changing the Way We Market Via Mobile

Augmented and virtual reality allows brands to craft experiences and engage consumers in unique, never-before-seen ways. Marketing is driven by consumers, and as new technology continues to grow, brands need to find new ways to meet the needs and desires of consumers.

Augmented reality allows brands to provide customer’s with creative experiences from their mobile device. Augmented reality is a powerful tool for driving sales and allows customers to use their mobile to experience products in new ways.

Augmented shopping experiences are becoming explosively popular. Now, consumers are able to test drive cars and see if a pair of Gucci shoes will suit them without leaving their couch.

This technology is continuing to expand, and brands need to ensure they are involving virtual and augmented reality into their mobile marketing plans.

Here are some ways brands can use augmented reality (AR) in their marketing campaigns:

  • AR digital brochures, pamphlets and experiences that let customers try before they buy.
  • Offering interactive product experiences via mobile.
  • Allow customers to speak directly with sales reps and people within your brand from the comfort of their device using AR or video software.

Provide long and short-form interactive video marketing.

› Product Training for Buyers

Brands are able to create real-world scenarios and allow customers to learn how to use their products effectively using VR. Brands can even offer feedback in some cases, allowing consumers to intuitively learn how the product will benefit their day-to-day life.

Using virtual reality for product training allows consumers to see the product in action. Demo equipment and additional shipping costs are a thing of the past with virtual reality taking the marketing world by storm.

Car dealerships are able to virtually show customers how to use every new feature within the car. Digital service providers can highlight exactly how to use their product effectively without the need for a free demo or trial. All of these vastly reduce the marketing costs for brands whilst ensuring customers get the best experience possible.

› Long-Form Video Virtual Reality Marketing

Younger demographics love video content. The massive growth of platforms like TikTok has proven this. Thus, marketers need to ensure that video marketing is a focal point in their marketing strategy.

Virtual reality provides exciting opportunities to utilize long-form video marketing experiences for consumers. By fully immersing potential buyers in these interactive experiences, brands are able to persuade buyers to purchase and increase conversion rates with ease. There are plenty of applications for this kind of marketing as well.

Interactive mini-courses, interactive brochures, try-ons, product education and interactive advertisements are all unique ways brands can utilize VR in their long-form video marketing. All of these offer a unique experience for consumers that will set brands apart, vastly increasing the success of their marketing strategy.

Interactive Advertising : Shape of Marketing

› The Future of Online Events

Online events have become widely popular due to the pandemic, and we expect to see this continue long after the pandemic. Using virtual reality to host interactive events is the future. Whilst this technology is in its early stages, we expect to see a rapid growth in brands hosting unique virtual online events.

COVID has shown that showcases, launches, exhibitions, networking events and company events can all be hosted via virtual reality. This will allow customers to gain a different insight into the brand and is likely to increase the success of launches. Virtual reality is truly going to change the way we run virtual events, and brands should start utilizing VR today to be a step ahead.

How Brands are Using Virtual Reality

• TopShop:

TopShop utilized virtual reality to create the TopShop VR catwalk experience. This campaign allowed users to sit at the center of a fashion show, and then go backstage to see the behind-the-scenes and meet celebrities. This campaign was very successful, and customers were able to relive the show whenever they wished and shop looks directly from the show.

• TOMS Shoes:

TOMS Virtual Giving Trip took viewers to Peru and chronicled the company’s donation and mission efforts. Consumers were able to meet school children who were about to receive TOMS shoes, and see the impact of the shoes on their lives. TOMS then set up this experience in all of their stores. The campaign was a massive success.

• Oreo:

Oreo released an interactive experience for customers to see how the brands Filled Cupcake flavored Oreos are made. Imaginative and fun, this experience took viewers to the ‘Wonder Vault’ where cookie flavors are created. A fun campaign that was well-targeted, it brought excellent awareness for the new product launch.

• Adidas:

Adidas showcased the mountain-climbing journey of two athletes that are sponsored by TERREX. With 360-degree views, viewers were able to follow the climbers throughout the journey, using a VR headset and two sensory remote controls. Consumers were able to scale Delicatessen mountain alongside the climbers, rock by rock. The campaign was a true success and an unforgettable way to market TERREX’s line of clothing.

• L’Oreal:

L’Oreal’s app MakeUp Genius allows consumers to try out make-up and hair styles from the comfort of their own home. Consumers are able to test make-up without the use of shares samples and without leaving their home. As customers try-on new looks, the app offers recommendations tailored for them. The app has been a massive success, and has been downloaded over 20 million times.

Why is VR and AR Marketing so Successful?

Immersive experiences offer high sensory impact. The brain tricks the body into thinking it’s actually in the virtual environment, which is why virtual reality marketing campaigns are so compelling. This heightened sensory experience creates an emotional link with the experience, and this is very powerful for sales. Global spending on augmented reality and virtual reality is forecast to increase from just over $12.0 billion in 2020 to $72.8 billion in 2024 as we move out of the pandemic. (Source: IDC)

Consumers get to live the story of your brand rather than just being an observer. The lack of fourth wall means that no special editing is needed to convince the brain that you’re there. Consumers get to experience the product and what it means on their own terms, which leads to heightened engagement with the campaign.

VR and AR also captures 100% of the user’s attention. Especially in the case of VR, the headset means the rest of the world is shut out and users are fully immersed in the marketing campaign. This means brands have a higher chance of making a conversion, as there are no distractions and reasons to click away.

Augmented reality allows you to put your product in a consumer’s hands without them leaving their home. This encourages them to buy the product, as they get to fully try the product. Augmented reality also reduces returns rates, as customers expectations are often succeeded thanks to the immersive component of the experience.

Thus, there are many benefits to incorporating VR and AR into your brand’s marketing today. It’s a powerful tool that is changing the way brands market goods and services.

› VR and AR Marketing for Small Businesses

Small businesses can use Facebook’s Spark AR online tool to created augmented reality content for free, with no knowledge of coding required. Instagram and Snapchat are also offering augmented reality features that can be used to boost small businesses marketing efforts for free.

Small businesses can create interactive filters that customers can use to showcase products and user-generated content on their social medias. The upfront cost for doing something like this is small, and users will be able to interact with the brand directly.

Hosting live shows on Facebook and Instagram is another way to offer an immersive virtual experience for small businesses. Again, the upfront cost of this is nothing and it will allow customers to uniquely engage directly with your business.

Adding an element of augmented reality to your business card and brochure does not have to be labor-intensive or costly. You can use Spark AR to create the content and add it directly to your online business card or portfolio. Both of these allow customers to directly interact with your product, and are a good way that small businesses can utilize this technology in their marketing.

› How Virtual Reality will Change Marketing and the Consumer Experience in the Future

We know that customers love great customer experiences. 86% of consumers are more likely to purchase a product or service when they receive great customer service and experience from the brand.

As virtual reality continues to grow, many stakeholders predict virtual reality to take over from in-store customer experience initiatives within the next five years. VR is changing how shop. Fully immersing us in the shopping experience, the traditional limits on shopping experiences including time or location are a thing of the past. A truly globalised experience, you can shop anywhere from around the world without leaving your couch.

This means customers can try products and shop new brands that they usually wouldn’t be able to, which changes the way we shop for the better.

The emotional and immersive aspects of VR is what will change the consumer experience forever. Marketers can develop experiences that trigger emotions like exhilaration, fear and excitement and fully immerse their audiences in the campaign. We know that when marketing campaigns appeal to human emotions, they tend to be more successful.

VR takes this to a new level. You can market incredible, emotional campaigns and fully immerse the audience within the experience, leading to greater conversions.

AI-powered chatbots and other virtual assistants can really improve the level of customer service your brand offers to consumers. Businesses are able to showcase how much they value their customers and offer intuitive, virtual reality customer service experiences that can operate at any time of the day.

Virtual reality allows us to travel the world from the comfort of our own couch. We can attend concerts and communicate with friends through virtual reality. VR and augmented reality are truly changing the face of marketing radically, and brands need to get on board quickly to get ahead with this technology.

Final Thoughts

Virtual reality and augmented reality are truly changing the way brands market to consumers. Bringing unique experiences, customers are able to try products before they buy them, and fully immerse themselves in different brands advertising campaigns. All of these lead to better conversion rates, as customer’s get to fully experience the product prior to buying it.

Both are highly successful in persuading buyers due to the immersive nature of the experience. Campaigns are more memorable and more compelling when VR and AR are used. Small businesses should strive to incorporate virtual and augmented reality into their marketing campaigns using free programs like Spark AR and Instagram filters. Virtual and augmented reality are truly changing the marketing landscape. Brands need to start incorporating virtual and augmented reality into their marketing strategies today, or risk falling behind.

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