In 2019, nobody questions the axiom that people no longer want to read too much promotional content. Everyone wants to be shown, and this is the strategy that content marketing has been using for a while.
Today, however, marketing is taking one step further and makes us not only see the content but experience it, live through it. To achieve that, marketing uses virtual reality (VR) allowing to take the audience anywhere in no time.
What is virtual reality marketing?
The answer to this question is in the term itself – virtual reality marketing is a marketing strategy using VR content.
As to VR content, here the possibilities are truly endless – from virtual tours to interactive experiences with 3D models, all available once you put on a VR headset.
Using VR marketing, your business can expand the promotion campaigns beyond TV and magazine ads and billboards.
With virtual reality, you can immerse users in the world created by your brand with your product showcased most advantageously.
Realistic or futuristic, a 3D environment where users can admire your products or services or even interact with them will make a much deeper imprint in their memory than an ad in a glossy magazine.
VR technology market overview
Let’s start with a figure – the statistics say that by 2021 the global consumer market of virtual reality software will reach $19 billion.
This is something business needs to take into account when planning its marketing strategy.
The overall public interest in VR is growing. We can see the increasing number of VR games, movies, videos, tutorials.
If we add here the custom VR content made for particular industries, businesses, or educational institutions, we will see that virtual reality is slowly but surely taking a firm hold in all areas of the economy.
The VR hardware industry is not lagging behind, either, recognizing the need for affordable VR headsets for any purpose.
There is a common opinion that virtual reality has a rather high entry barrier due to the cost of the VR headsets that are needed to view the content. Indeed, some VR headsets may be on the expensive side, for example, HTC Vive Pro costs as much as $799.
However, there is a trend towards developing more affordable VR hardware, such as Oculus Go that starts at $199 and requires neither a PC nor a smartphone to view the VR content.
At the same time, while discussing the possibilities of virtual reality in marketing, let’s not forget the consumer, as they are the primary target of all marketing campaigns.
From the consumer’s point of view, the future of VR marketing looks bright and beautiful.
Studies show that, in general, consumers are better inclined to buy from a brand that uses VR than from others. A closer analysis explains such a phenomenon by the following factors:
- Consumers see a brand implementing VR as a forward-looking and advanced one;
- Customers feel the urge to be associated with such a brand;
- Consumers feel an emotional impact after experiencing VR content and become more open to the brand.
Before we go on, look at the graph below. We did not find any negative emotion that consumers felt after watching a VR content, did you?
The uses of VR in marketing
While we can say that, in general, VR enhances the emotional effect on the audience and helps to get the message through, the use of virtual reality in different industries has its own specifics.
VR marketing in real estate
The problem with marketing real estate objects is that they are immobile. A house or an apartment is always in the same place, and to view it, you need to visit the location physically. But what if we replace “physically” with “virtually”?
With virtual tours, a real estate company gets much wider marketing opportunities than with traditional marketing on TV and in printed media. Any TV advertisement can give the potential customers the feeling of space and convenience that VR can.
Besides, with VR marketing, you will also target the low-mobility audience that for whatever reason finds it difficult to travel for viewing the places.
And we haven’t even mentioned the time both you and your clients can save when watching VR real estate tours at their convenience.
Of course, many of your customers will still wish to make a real visit to the property they have set their sights on.
At the same time, touring the places virtually will allow them to discard the properties that definitely do not fit.
Again, lots of time and money are saved both for the real estate company and the customers.
In addition, VR advertising is a great tool for marketing properties that have not been built yet.
You cannot invite customers to a construction site – it is not safe, and there is not much for them to see. Unless, of course, you use VR.
Metricon, an Australian home building company, uses VR marketing heavily to offer properties that are still under construction.
Their VR app shows a completely furnished house that you can walk through. You can assess the convenience and design and suggest changes at early stages, thus reducing the cost and time needed to complete the house.
VR marketing in retail
In an effort not to lose the market to e-commerce, the retail sector does not take long to adopt the advanced technologies to market their products and services.
Retailers in the home décor, furniture, cars, and clothes have been experimenting with the VR technology for some time offering virtual placements, test drives, and try-ons.
It seems that the time for the general retail VR experience has come. Virtual reality is coming to the good old shopping malls adding acres to their space and allowing to touch and handle products virtually.
This summer, Amazon installed VR shopping kiosks in 10 malls in India. Customers putting on a VR headset and manipulating a joystick, could inspect and handle various products, operate appliances, view supplementary information about goods in virtual reality.
The VR experience included different sections and resembled a visit to a real shopping mall. Now, Amazon is studying the feedback to see how this project should evolve.
Of course, when we are talking about retail and advanced technology, we cannot omit to mention Walmart. This global network is known as an early adopter of technologies that can increase the level of service or customer satisfaction.
Recently, Walmart filed two patents for a “virtual showroom”. The invention is going to create a genuine VR experience of shopping at Walmart without the hassle of browsing the crowded aisles of an actual supermarket.
Imagine sitting on your couch wearing a headset and a haptic glove and shopping in a virtual store. Everything you put in your virtual cart will be delivered by Walmart’s service.
Walmart patents are pending yet, so we should wait to see how exactly this solution will be implemented.
What is clear is that this VR project is definitely worth following.
VR marketing in tourism
In tourism, marketing mostly refers to marketing destinations. And what can be better suited to show a faraway place than a virtual reality tour?
When we search for holidays, we tend to give the visual and the emotional the highest priority, sometimes, even at a higher cost.
If we can visit the hotel, the national park, the beach in VR, we can immediately feel whether the place suits us, whether there is that “chemistry” that makes the holiday truly unforgettable.
Virtual reality can do all that placing the user in the middle of their future vacation place right from their homes.
A study for the Omni Hotels chain showed that people who experienced a VR tour were 67% better inclined to book a room in the hotel.
The same study also demonstrated a 16% increase in the overall number of bookings when virtual reality was used.
These figures clearly show one of the benefits of using VR – creating an emotional effect that other marketing tools cannot achieve.
Qantas, the national airline of Australia, is enthusiastically exploring the opportunities of VR to market its destinations.
The airline has released a VR mobile app viewable through a cardboard device and a number of scenarios showing the tourist attractions in Australia.
We may say that Qantas virtual tour of Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park with the famous Ayers Rock is one of the most beautiful examples of VR in the tourism industry. Of course, the airline unobtrusively suggests the flights to that destination.
Examples of popular virtual reality marketing campaigns for brands
The number of companies that run absolutely amazing virtual reality marketing campaigns increases continuously. In addition to those we mentioned before, we can also name a couple more that can give you an idea of how a VR marketing strategy can be shaped up.
McDonald’s Happy Goggles
Happy Goggles is a marketing campaign that McDonald’s launched in Sweden in 2016.
The idea is simple and at the same time brilliant – turning a Happy Meal box into a VR viewer. After eating the meal, the child folds the box according to the instructions, inserts the smartphone – et voilà, the viewer is ready.
McDonald has even included a simple game that can be played using the Happy Goggles viewer. You can imagine the kids’ delight at watching a new super-toy emerging from a plain cardboard box. The children will continue playing with it long after the visit to the diner.
Moreover, this is a great example of recycling the waste that can also serve an educational purpose for the McDonald’s young guests.
Coca-Cola Santa’s Sleigh Ride
Coca-Cola’s marketing campaigns have always been strikingly bold and unusual. It is the first brand that managed to market a refreshing beverage in winter. The company launched the first-holiday marketing campaign in 1931, and since then, we have been admiring sweet Christmas ads from year to year.
In 2015, the traditional Christmas campaign was enhanced with a VR application. Ride with Santa in a reindeer-driven sleigh and enjoy the beautiful pre-Christmas scenery. Children and adults alike were amazed at such a VR experience.
By releasing its VR ad, Coca-Cola, on the one hand, kept its decades-old tradition of making Christmas ads and, on the other hand, showed its openness to the advanced technologies.
This producer of outdoor gear prepared an outstanding outdoor experience for its customers. Adidas TERREX sponsored mountain climbers and aimed at creating a virtual reality tour showing the extreme difficulty of climbing a hard peak – Delicatessen of the Bavella Mountain Range in Corsica.
In this VR campaign, Adidas TERREX focused not as much on showcasing their line of products but on the experience of climbing a difficult slope.
The VR app is a means for people to try climbing the Delicatessen without the risk of injuring themselves. We believe it is a great way of promoting the sport you are dedicated to.
The benefits of VR marketing
In our analysis of the examples of how virtual reality in marketing can be used, we have touched upon the benefits that VR brings to your brand. Let’s summarize them for better clarity:
- High emotional effect on the customers
- High user engagement and brand recognition
- Brand’s positioning as an advanced, technology-oriented company
- Increased media coverage due to the unusual experience created by VR
- Viral marketing started by the early adopters.
How much does VR development cost?
If you are planning a VR strategy to promote your brand, your initial investment into the development of the virtual reality content depends on how you want that content to reach your potential customers.
As we mentioned already, virtual reality requires special hardware, and that is your starting point in planning the content.
For simpler VR applications, such as virtual tours, it may be enough to develop a mobile app viewable through a simple device, such as Google Cardboard or similar.
If, however, you are thinking of a complex, interactive, multi-user VR application, you will need a more sophisticated set of hardware including a VR headset and gloves, sensors, or joysticks, for example, Oculus Rift, and PC-based software.
The VR content to be used in the application can also be very different.
For example, in a virtual tour, you can use 360-degree videos recorded in the real locations.
For VR scenarios that do not exist in real life, you will need to design and create artificial spaces.
For interactive applications, you will need 3D models of objects that users can manipulate in the virtual space.
In general, we can say that depending on the scope, complexity, and features to be included, a VR app development cost is within the range of $40,000 – 200,000. For a detailed analysis of the processes included in virtual reality app development and the cost of virtual reality production, refer to our blog.
What is the future for virtual reality in marketing and advertising?
The general adoption of virtual reality is driven by the development of budget VR hardware. The manufacturers recognize the market demand and work on lowering the barrier set by the hi-end VR equipment.
Affordable VR devices will attract more users who can continue popularizing the brands and their products through viral loops.
Virtual reality, creating experiences that no other software product is capable of, gives the users an absolutely unparalleled sensation of the product leaving long-term memories.
Brands integrating VR in their marketing campaign will benefit from this effect that will immediately make them stand out from among the competition.
We cannot say that virtual reality in marketing is still in its infancy, as there are already lots of examples of successful use of VR in promotional campaigns. We may be safe to say that it is in its childhood period with the wide adoption and new formats just around the corner.
Soon, we may see VR replacing the traditional forms of advertising with consumers tending to try and test new products or services in virtual space before getting their real-life counterparts.
For brands, it is important to become the pioneers on this market. Now, when VR is not as common as we expect it to become, you can make your brand name known and recognizable by advertising it in an unusual manner.
We will gladly consult you on the matters of VR development and implementation and work with you on creating a one-of-a-kind marketing campaign for your business. With virtual reality, top-quality professional development is the only thing that matters, as the emotional effect will be complete only when there are no technical flaws.
Browse our portfolio to see our experience in virtual reality app development and contact us for a detailed discussion of your VR project. If you have an idea of how to use VR for your marketing campaign, we can make it real.