At first, virtual reality seemed like a niche technology that would cool off after a couple of years. It's becoming clear that VR is here to stay, though. The potential innovations and the future of the platform seem unending and bright. With Sony's PlayStation VR platform alone selling over 2 million units, the legitimacy of the technology has become undeniable.
Google Cardboard offers an affordable VR set for mobile phones and the Samsung VR gear has enraptured its fan base. The offerings do not stop there as the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive have completely engulfed the PC VR market. There is a great argument that, in fact, virtual reality is not only a lasting trend but a soon-to-be integral part of everyday life.
Consumers all over the world are adopting the hardware at rates faster than expected. Companies, at least those wise enough to see, are developing applications and experiences for the virtual reality platform. There is really so much to be excited about in this space for a variety of reasons.
The most important to businesses, however, is the impact that VR has on marketing.
It goes without saying that a business that can deliver a sensory experience to potential customers is one that will most likely see an increase in revenue. This is why there has been so much innovation in the business space so quickly. Owners all over the world see that the impact of VR is not just a gimmick but a real transformable experience.
Getting started with VR
Entering the virtual reality space is not as difficult as many believe it to be as the platform has a fairly easy and accessible entry point. This has, at least partially, led to the increased participation in the development of virtual reality software. You no longer need a team of engineers to create a virtual reality app that is at least basic in design but still provides a deep sensory experience. However, developers are still recommended for apps that are robust and interesting to really set yourself apart from the competition.
We see businesses like Coca-Cola and Google getting into the VR space and making experiences that effectively market their brands while simultaneously providing consumers with a memorable experience. This is most likely the most important aspect of virtual reality and that is that marketing is no longer one-sided. It provides companies a gateway into a person's mind and allows them to entertain their potential customers while also relaying their branding message to them. Instead of having potential customers watch mindless television ads and look at stolid billboards, while occasionally creative, companies can create experiences that consumers will not forget.
This allows a company to really embed themselves into the consumers mind and allows for a deeper connection to the customer. Soon, as virtual reality hardware becomes ubiquitous, marketing in the VR space will become a no-brainer and will completely revolutionize marketing altogether.
For businesses that are interested engaging the VR market the simplest thing they can do is to create an app that accurately displays their message and provides consumers with the feeling of their business. This is a cross between design and product development with a strong sense of UX.
This will allow potential consumers to connect with a brand on a deeper level. It is also an invaluable tool for those who do not have traditional businesses that creates goods found quickly on shelves. For instance, a company that creates rocket engines can use virtual reality to give an in-depth look at their products and allow the consumer to see them in action. For car companies this can be an even greater experience as virtual reality can give the potential customer the experience of driving one of their cars. It is also great for the independent crafts makers as they can submit a virtual image of their creations and allow customers to interact with them.
Ultimately, marketing in the virtual reality space is about giving customers an experience rather than just noise. It's not about how invasive or loud your ad is, but rather, how impactful the experience you create for them is. Marketing with virtual reality creates sensory bonds with consumers and gives all companies an edge in their respective markets. Virtual reality hardware is gaining momentum quickly and soon will be in almost all households in some form or another. The sooner your company can breach their space the the better your impact will be. Marketing in VR is no longer just a gimmick or niche idea, it is now the future.
Charles Dearing is a veteran tech and marketing journalist who has written for various publications such as ProBlogger, Big Think and Apps World.