Virtual Reality is going through a massive buzz stage at the moment, gaining mass visibility in the news and getting covered by many popular content creators on YouTube and other media sharing platforms. There seems to be a lot laying in the future of VR, which has left marketers asking “can we use this to market our products more effectively?”
Well, of course some of the bigger, more experimental and cutting edge brands have already tried their hand at VR marketing, including McDonalds, Volvo, Coca Cola and Disney. These campaigns were one of the first of a kind, and for such an early adoption they performed surprisingly well. The campaigns make marketing interactive, interesting and unique. This is hard to achieve with a normal video campaign, and near impossible for a text ad or text campaign.
What Is VR Marketing, and What Are The Benefits?
It might be beneficial to explain at first what VR actually is. VR is the process of creating a virtual environment that can be explored by a person, with the person becoming immersed in the environment whilst they are wearing the VR device. There are objects that they can manipulate, actions they can complete and things they can interact with in the virtual world. A user’s experience of VR is enabled through a headset, which covers your entire vision and often has headphones to simulate the worlds sound too. This tricks your brain into thinking that you are really there.
VR marketing is the act of creating a virtual world that a user can explore, and adapting it to convey the benefits of a product or service. It is clear to see how a campaign like this could work extremely well for some businesses, and there are many benefits. Some of the benefits include:
- Interacting with your target audience in an extremely detailed, effective way.
- Giving your target audience a true taste of the experience of your products or services.
- Allows businesses to get extremely creative with their marketing campaigns.
- The interactive world of VR can be accessed from anywhere.
- Offers consumers a way to get a taste for an experience instantly.
- Currently it offers a competitive advantage over many competitors.
- It is an experience that a consumer will remember, which is great for brand awareness.
- It conveys a method of marketing that is genuinely entertaining for the consumer.
What Are The Disadvantages Of VR For Marketing?
As you can see, the prospect of VR marketing is incredibly promising at this stage. That said however, there are some very clear things holding the creation of VR campaigns back for most businesses. There are of course no perfect marketing methods, and VR is by no means an exception to that trend. Here some of the disadvantages and limitations that are holding the progress of VR marketing back currently:
- The technology has a low adoption rate, and currently most people do not have access to a VR capable device or headset. A proper VR set up is not cheap.
- Sophistication is currently a problem for VR, and despite the bounds of progress made since past VR devices, VR still has a long way to go before it is a simple, reliable and seamless process.
- User reactions are something that may work against some campaigns, and due to their interactivity they could well be interpreted differently from user to user (with some users possibly taking a negative stance on the campaign.)
- Creating a marketing campaign within VR is currently a complicated, timely and expensive process.
So, Is VR A Worthy Investment For Marketers?
VR is a marketing avenue that has yet to see full light to the world. Not many VR campaigns have been created, not many people have the technology that is required to view VR to its full potential and it may well be years until it truly hits the mainstream (assuming that it does at all). If the demographic of your target audience consists of people on the cutting edge of technology then yes, VR is valuable to you right not, but chances are that’s not the case and investing now may just be jumping into the party a few years early.
For now, it might be a good idea to keep a very close eye on the progression of VR as a marketing tool, and take steps to adapt if and when it becomes mainstream and more widely accessible. It may also be worth attempting to gauge how your audience will react to a VR campaign, VR will not be a useful marketing tool for all companies, so gauging their reaction is very important.