The marketing industry is undergoing a profound change currently and technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality are driving it. After years of being an expensive and impractical tool, confined primarily to gaming, Virtual reality is finally finding acceptance as a viable, affordable marketing paradigm VR today appeals to anyone and everyone.
Since it has become very easy these days to access virtual reality content with smartphones, brands are finding immense appeal in employing it to wow their audience, they get an opportunity to build an enriching and immersive experience for their customers that would cost roughly the same as any other static image or video content.
In fact, even as early as in 2016, Thomas Cook used Virtual Reality for a campaign called ‘Try Before You Fly’. It could be viewed online in a browser. Even though the brand recommended watching it on a mobile device using the YouTube app and Google Cardboard.
A viewer began the journey in the cockpit of a Thomas Cook plane and then could jump to separate videos, for economy and premium classes. Viewers had to look around the plane to find various clues. With these clues, viewers had to guess the airline’s newest destinations. Once viewers were done guessing, they were redirected to a microsite to enter their answers. Lucky winners stood to win a £3,000 holiday to Los Angeles.
One more brilliant use of Virtual Reality was by You Visit, an organization that has worked with numerous fortune 100 companies to convey space, infrastructure, people and culture to prospective employees. They did an amazing job of conveying corporate spaces with virtual reality. The use of Virtual Reality technology allowed viewers to come into a remote space, experience it; and create an emotional connection.
Virtual Reality is about control
There is no denying the fact, that the more immersive and engaging the virtual reality experience is, the more engaged customers are with the brand. Higher levels of engagement with its customers is what a brand thrives on. To capitalize on such initiatives, the brand needs to think from a users’ point of view instead. If a user is in control, he/she feels empowered. And once the viewer has a virtual reality experience, the experience must stay with him/her even after the gear has been removed. If and when that happens, then the brand affinity increases multifold.
Virtual Reality is about the the brand story.
Like any other medium, VR also calls for attention to details. The background visuals set the stage and complete the experience. Using the right text is in the right context, colours, style, placements, helps in creating the right empathy for the message that the brand is trying to convey.
From ‘Nice-To-Have-Device’ To ‘Have-To-Have-Device’
Virtual reality technology can take off if consumers are able to find it useful. The e-commerce industry is ideally placed for using VR to add greater value to its users. VR lets consumers visualize the products before they make a purchase.
Virtual reality stores can also be launched, reducing the physical inventory that has to be maintained without compromising on the customer’s desire to browse and see. One such initiative was taken by an Australian retailer Myer in association with eBay. They launched the first ever VR department store.
Virtual Reality and Behavioral Data
A brand that has successfully built a VR experience that customers have interacted with in huge numbers then becomes an ideal space of consumer research. It gives a premise for customers to test a product or service and lets the brand track what they do in this space.
For example, retail brand like IKEA launched an application that let the users try out the furniture in their home. The app automatically scales the furniture based on the dimensions of the room and customers can see if it is perfect for their rooms or not. This lets them understand what their customers interact with and what are their preferences, unmet needs, what they would like to buy and what they would not like to buy.
(To get your own version of the IKEA app, do get in touch with us!)
Branding with Virtual Reality
Failing to plan is planning to fail. A bit of planning while using virtual reality for branding can have a huge impact on the results. Some points below can guide your VR campaign in the right direction:
Know Your Customers
The success of any marketing and branding campaign relies on knowing the customers well. VR campaigns are no different. It is imperative for brands to understand what their customers like to see, feel, think, touch, and discover. For creating an immersive experience, brands need to understand what kind of experience their customers are looking for.
Focus on storytelling and creating an experience.
Virtual reality has the power to create an emotional bonding between brands and consumers. But; this immersive experience can be created only if there is a strong storyline attached to it. Customers resent hard selling and one-sided conversations. With an effective storyline, the chances of the customer forming an affinity with the brand increase drastically.
The effective usage of VR can make the impossible possible. Striking visuals can effectively capture the imagination of the audience and hold its attention. Also, the hardware for VR is improving at a constant rate, resulting in better visual experiences for the viewers.
Serialize The Content and Make It Shareable
Give the story of your VR content a longer life. A story with multiple components can connect the brand with the audience and they can come back again and again. Breaking your story in multiple weekly or monthly episode ensures that audiences make a habit of interacting with your brand, strengthening the attachment and creating a stronger, active relationship.
One more method to increase the shelf life of your content is to make it so unique that people share it on their social media handles. People are hungry for interesting, shareable content, and this feature can give them that.
Wrapping It Up
Choosing virtual reality technology as a part of branding and marketing is a statement in itself. It’s the mark of a strong, self-confident brand that’s sure about establishing and retaining a multi-sensory approach. Executed properly, the gains from virtual reality collaterals can be, if you will pardon the pun, as real as it can get!