Ellie Reid from our Manchester office looks at the recent boom in virtual reality.

Most people have heard of Virtual Reality but this technology still isn’t something we regularly encounter over the course of our day-to-day lives. Whether this is down to cost, the perceived complexity of the software or the unfamiliar hardware that’s needed, VR isn’t cutting through the same way the smartphone did over a decade ago.

Things are starting to change though. Big brands are increasingly tapping into VR technology in order to reach their customers. They’ve recognised that a cultural shift is underway and that digital natives are more comfortable with VR technology than the generation that preceded them. As consumers, our behaviour is changing. A recent study by Eventbrite showed that 78% of US millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than objects.

That is where Virtual Reality comes in. VR can engage and immerse consumers in a branded experience in ways more mainstream tools can only dream of.

So, what exactly is VR?

VR is an Immersive Technology. It can be broken down into two types – passive, where you sit and watch, for example, a 360° video, or active, where you are involved in shaping the experience.

Why use VR?

VR is proven to influence behaviour and long-term thinking. According to a report featured in Campaign, 79% of consumers exposed to a branded VR experience will seek out additional VR experiences from the same brand, whilst a whopping 81% of consumers will tell their friends about it.

From a marketing perspective, brands can maximise the impact of VR even further by using it as an opportunity to capture additional content. This could include in-experience footage, customer reactions, user-generated content or converting the VR experience into a 360 video for social sharing.

One to watch: Augmented Reality

One recent evolution of VR technology is the emergence of Augmented Reality. It differs from VR in that it overlays branded content over real-life images. It is less immersive than VR but (arguably) more sociable as you are engaging with the outside world. Ikea is already utilising AR through a new app in which customers are able to use a smartphone to preview how Ikea furniture will look in their homes before they buy it.

The future is immersive

If we’re to believe the words from IKEA’s head of sustainability, the western world has reached its peak appetite for home furnishings, along with different types of consumer goods. As we reach this zenith, the future of consumerism, marketing and communications will inevitably move towards being more immersive, more experiential and open up a lot more ways to engage with people.

VR could be a great platform to get consumers and the media talking about your brand.

If you’re looking for new and exciting ways to immerse your target audiences with your marketing communications, please drop us a line here.

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