Who’s using virtual reality (VR) today? What are their motivations? What are the VR use cases and content categories that resonate most? And for those uninterested in VR, what are their reasons?

A lot can be learned about VR’s market opportunity by answering questions like these, and uncovering sentiments of the consumer public. And in VR’s early days, such data is scarce yet critical to positioning strategies.

So we set out for answers. Working closely with Thrive Analytics, ARtillry authored questions to be fielded through its established survey engine. The result is the first wave of Thrive’s Virtual Reality Monitor™ (VRM).

Tapping a considerable sample of almost 2000 adults, the data returned telling consumer behavior patterns, useful in ongoing VR strategy refinement. That includes content, hardware and other components.

VR Usage & Consumer Attitudes

Key Takeaways


— Samsung’s Gear VR is VRM’s most popular headset, followed by Playstation VR (PSVR)

— Gear VR’s success is due to its relatively low price ($129), and longer tenure in the marketplace relative to the comparable Google Daydream View.
— PSVR’s success is due partly to its compatibility with 60 million PlayStation 4 consoles.

— VR owners will pay for quality… to a point. PSVRs tier-1 benefits resonate with consumers but are also “good enough” for most, versus the more capable and expensive Rift & Vive.

— VR satisfaction is favorable across headsets, invoking cautious optimism for VR’s future.

— Because VR is so immersive and visceral, it incites a strong positive response.
— This is a blessing and a curse: Though it results in high satisfaction levels, it requires direct experience that can’t be replicated in commentary or marketing.
— The industry’s challenge is to bring technologically invasive experiences to the masses.

— Among those uninterested in VR, the biggest reason was “just not interested.”

— This contrasts with owners’ satisfaction, validating that you have to try VR to “get it.”
— This indicates two key areas of improvement for VR players: education and distribution.
— Getting that “first taste” to the masses should be a key business objective for the industry.
— Adoption accelerants include retail installations, VR arcades and Mobile VR.

— Among the things that VR users desire, more and better content top the list.

— This validates that content is king in VR, just like other mediums.
–Content is currently a gap in VR’s value chain, challenged by a classic “chicken & egg” dilemma, given low overall headset penetration..

— VR affinity correlates to youth, due to natural technology interest among digital natives.

— Willingness to spend $400+ on VR equipment shows a reverse correlation to age, with one exception: Ages 25-34 are more willing than ages 18-24, likely due to spending power.

— $400 is a significant price point, validated by Oculus’ recent pricing adjustment for Rift.

— We’ll see more price competition: emerging sectors often trade margins for market share.

— Top VR activities include watching movies, exploring the world, gaming and watching sports.

— These areas are ripe for business opportunity, or synergies with existing businesses.

— The most successful VR apps will apply native thinking: building specifically for the form factor.

— Just like with smartphones, apps that utilize unique aspects (i.e 3D immersion) will outperform those that shoehorn legacy 2D media it into a VR experience.

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Disclosure: ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this post, nor received payment for its production. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen here.