Marketers are beginning to use virtual reality as a marketing tool, and its popularity is growing. The total number of active virtual reality users is forecast to reach 171 million by 2018; in 2016 the overall number was estimated at 10.8 million. By 2021, Greenlight Insights predicts that global VR revenues will total close to $75 billion. With the increase in revenue and popularity, what better time than now for marketers to jump on the bandwagon.
Michelle Greenwald (2016) says virtual reality is another tool marketers can use and there are different ways it can be deployed. This includes in-store, in the home, in reading material, in social media, in B2B demos, and sales calls”. As a result, marketers will have to choose options that “best support their brand strategies.”
What is Virtual Reality?
But first, marketers need to understand what VR is. Neil Patel (2017) defines virtual reality as a “computer-based simulation of interactive environment. It feels real and physical by using electronics like headsets, glasses, and phones. But it isn’t”. It gives its users the feeling of being physically present at whatever they are viewing, and some VR sets even include earphones that provide an audio experience.
Who is using Virtual Reality as a Marketing Tool?
Companies such as Toms, and Oreo are using it as a form of visual storytelling. For example, Toms is using it to take its audience to remote parts of the world where they can experience a giving trip. Oreo promoted its new Filled Cupcake Flavored cookies by creating a virtual world that took users through a mystical fantasy land. As of February 2018, the video has had over 3 million views. Football teams, like Stanford University, are even using it for training purposes.
Marketers can use VR in a variety of ways (Greenwald 2016):
- Demonstrate product attributes, features, functionality.
- Communicate the brand’s mission at point of sale.
- Immerse users in a branded entertainment experience.
- Show how a brand can fit into an aspiration lifestyle.
So, how will your brand use virtual reality as a marketing tool?