Imagine test driving a new car, attending an elite party with the most interesting man in the world, and watching your favorite band perform an intimate concert just for you – all from the comfort of your living room. This, through the lenses of a virtual reality headset, is the very real world that we are living in.
Guest Post by Dustin Sharp, Senior Art Director at Trepoint.
Sure, the concept of virtual reality (VR) has been around for decades, but now it is more immersive, realistic, and accessible than ever. Big names like Facebook, Google, and Samsung are investing billions in the platform, and brands big and small have begun embracing this “new” form of customer engagement.
For the end user, the cost of entry ranges from $600+ for high-end, head-mounted displays – such as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive – featuring motion controllers and all the bells and whistles, to literally nothing for a folded piece of cardboard that holds your smartphone. And while the quality of the experience may vary from headset to headset, the overall outcome is the same: a very personal, captivating, and exciting way to explore content like never before.
Below are 5 slick ways you can begin to use VR as part of your overall marketing strategy.
1. Product Demos
You know that your target consumer is doing his or her research online before dishing out cash for your product. They’re reading reviews, watching YouTube videos, and checking out the specs listed on your site. Now you can take that a step further with VR by letting them explore your product inside and out.
Show them the fine detail that went into crafting the materials that make up your product. Give them a very personal demonstration of the ways your offering will add value to their lives. And do this all in full stereoscopic 3D with 360 degrees of awesomeness.
For example, luxury automotive brands like Lexus and Infiniti are using VR to let you take virtual test drives down beautiful scenic roads while you explore the lush interiors of their vehicles. Hardware retailer Lowes, on the other hand, lets customers remodel their kitchens with new countertops, beautiful appliances, and fresh cabinets without having lifting a hammer.
Our brains crave a good story and you’ve got one to tell. Whether it’s the history behind your brand or simply an expression of your brand’s personality, VR takes your tale to the next level. Let customers look around the factory and show them where the “magic” happens. Take viewers on a virtual journey through time as your brand moved from an idea scribbled on a napkin to a global empire.
Dos Equis invited their fans to a very exclusive masquerade hosted by the Most Interesting Man in the World. Publishers like The New York Times and Discovery created VR apps that let you travel around the world and see life from new perspectives, firsthand.
Gaming seems like a natural fit for VR and will inevitably play a huge part in VR’s future. But how can you tie that in with a brand message/experience?
Brands like Gatorade are using VR to let fans of the sports drink step up to the plate alongside MLB pro, Bryce Harper, hitting fastballs in a virtual stadium. Sony Pictures placed viewers 110 stories above New York City on a wire to promote their film, The Walk. The balancing game was not for those afraid of heights!
4. Live Events
In addition to advancements in VR technology, broadband internet speeds have really pushed the popularity of live video content. With apps like Twitter’s Periscope and Facebook’s Live streaming video directly to your News Feed, this will be a continuing trend.
Now, we are seeing these two worlds combine. YouTube recently announced the addition of live 360-degree videos, and Facebook showed off their own 360-degree, live-streaming camera at the annual F8 developer’s conference. Imagine giving your fans front row seats for an inspiring keynote speaker or an exclusive live performance of their favorite band. How about letting your advocates partake and rub virtual elbows with the tech elite at your next big product unveiling?
Animal Planet used live VR recently to place viewers in the middle of their annual Puppy Bowl event. VR + Live Video + Puppies?! Now that’s a recipe for success.
Just about all executions of VR involve some level of exploration. Transporting you instantly around the world in an immersive experience is one of VR’s strong points.
Brands can now take their target consumers on a virtual journey around their world (real or imagined). The real estate and hospitality industries can use this tech to let people tour the interiors of homes and hotels without moving from the couch. How about sending your audience out to the farm to frolic in the fields whence all your ingredients are sourced?
Amusement park Cedar Point used VR to let us take a ride on their newest roller coaster without waiting in line. The results were fun, albeit a little dizzying. Where would you take your customers?
So how do you take the next step into creating a VR experience for your brand?
Step 1: Define your purpose.
VR has a lot of novelty. But connecting that novelty to a specific purpose will bring the greatest results. Use the suggestions above as a starting point to help define your approach, but remember that, as the platform continues to advance and become more of a household medium, the possibilities will only multiply.
Step 2: Produce killer content.
Once you have an idea, producing VR content can be as simple as investing in a 360-degree camera rig and uploading your work to YouTube. Or, you can enlist the help of the many VR production firms springing up to embrace this emerging technology. However you do it, aim to make it awesome!
We may be only at the beginning, but it’s safe to say that virtual reality as a new marketing medium is here to stay. Where will it take you and your brand?
A sucker for smart design, catchy melodies, creative problem solving, high-tech gadgetry and a hoppy India Pale Ale, Dustin brings these passions to his work as Senior Art Director at Trepoint. Crafting captivating concepts, born from compelling insights, Dustin pushes for solutions that move the needle, create action and make a scene.