Virtual Reality: Changing the Way We See Business

by PMA

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality: Changing the Way We See Business

When it comes to future trends in the world of marketing there is one that commentators bring up again and again: Virtual Reality. Once upon a time it seemed like the work of science fiction, however in 2016 it has very much become a reality.

The possible applications of this technology have already been realised by a number of large businesses that are seeing the benefits of Virtual Reality. Volvo, Red Bull and Tesco are just a few examples that have recently gained attention for their implementation of Virtual Reality campaigns. As a result, Google searches for Virtual Reality have almost doubled since 2015.
Virtual Reality
Screenshot taken Feb 2016. Image source:

Furthermore, it is being made easier than ever to get involved with the advent of technologies such as the Oculus Rift (a Virtual Reality headset available to consumers as of July this year) and YouTube 360 (which allows Virtual Reality to be experienced from your smartphone). These all pave the way for businesses of all sizes to create highly immersive content.

Virtual Reality: Virtual Experiences

Virtual Reality opens a whole new dimension for a customer to sample something before they buy it. Rather than simply watching a commercial, advertisers can now break down the fourth wall and insert viewers, making it feel as though they are in it. All in the comfort of their own home.

One company to do this was Volvo who in 2014 pioneered a campaign to promote the launch of their new SUV the XC90. Potential customers could download a ‘Volvo Reality’ app and request a free Google Cardboard unit. From this they were able to experience the car from a virtual drivers seat in several different driving scenarios.

There are shortcomings associated with this medium such as less than ideal video quality and the absence of any significant interaction from the viewer but this is to be expected. Nobody is going to commit to buy a car based simply on an app but it certainly got people talking about it, which is an all too important first step.

The use of Virtual Reality doesn’t need to have an overtly commercial motive. The use of virtual experiences can just as easily be used to promote a brand. If implemented correctly a great deal of exposure can be generated with the possibility of it going viral.

An example of this can be demonstrated by energy drink giant Red Bull who in 2015 released a 360-degree video on YouTube whereby users at home could witness what it was like to be in the cockpit of a Formula 1 race car speeding down a track at 300+ kilometres an hour. The video has since garnered over 3 million views owing in large part to being one of the first videos to utilise the new technology.

The possible applications for this technology are substantial. It can pave the way to anything from virtual home opens, to product demos, to interactive movie trailers. We are limited only by our own imaginations.

Virtual Reality: Live Streaming Events

Virtual Reality also opens up a whole new world of possibilities when it comes to live streaming events. Conventionally when it comes to events, the organisers are restricted by factors such as occupancy limits and crowd control. Virtual Reality can make issues like this a thing of the past.

This has already been utilised in the world of music. In late 2014 Paul McCartney in partnership with California based virtual reality content company Jaunt launched an app where fans would be able to experience the artist’s Live and Let Die concert for free. The app was downloaded over 1,500 times by Android users alone, which demonstrates the potential that this medium has.

This has endless application in the world of business. Imagine if you could sell the best seat to this summer’s hottest concert thousands of times or if you could give countless people a virtual presence at your next expo or function. It would be a sight more engaging than a Skype call that’s for sure.

Virtual Reality: Interactive Story Telling

One of the secrets to effectively utilise social media is being able to communicate a story properly. Virtual Reality presents a way to enhance this technique tenfold.

In 2015, Mexican tequila company Patrón produced a highly stylised Virtual Reality experience for the Oculus Rift that put viewers in the perspective of a bee flying around Patrón’s tequila fields. Consequently the consumer is now more informed about the process in which the product is made as well as showcasing the company as being on the forefront on the latest trends.

A company’s history tells a lot about the brand such as what it stands for and how it positions itself to the public. This can be an exciting and highly immersive way for a company to communicate its history that is far more appealing than 2000 words of text on an ‘About Us’ page.

Virtual Reality: Market Research

Aside from what is produced for the masses, Virtual Reality also provides new and exciting opportunities for use by organisations internally. One such avenue is to increase the effectiveness of market research.

U.K. supermarket giant Tesco has previously made use of this by creating a virtual store before it was even built. Participants then donned an Oculus Rift and were able to explore it and give feedback on the effectiveness of store layout, promotional displays and so on. This gave the company invaluable knowledge that avoided costly mistakes that would not have been realised until the building stage was complete.

Furthermore, advances such as this can pave the way for future innovations. There have also been reports that Tesco’s Virtual Reality supermarket may evolve into an actual ecommerce store someday where consumers can browse a supermarket and do their weekly shopping without ever leaving the house. Although still in the development stage, this is certainly an interesting venture to keep an eye on.

Concept drawings and models have worked well in the past but it looks as though the future of research and development might belong to Virtual Reality. While this future tech has some critics concerned over the cold and anti-social nature it can sometimes produce, it is not something to be afraid of, it should be embraced. The technology in order to achieve Virtual Reality is only going to get cheaper and cheaper and the businesses that move in on this early stand to gain a significant strategic advantage.