VR traction over the past few years has been slower than many had anticipated. But it’s still finding small wins and is growing at a fairly healthy pace. So the question is how well it’s landing with consumers today, and are those sentiments trending in the right direction?

So we set out for answers. Working closely with Thrive Analytics, ARtillery Intelligence authored questions to be fielded through its established survey engine to more than 98,000 U.S. adults. The result is Wave VI of the research, and a narrative report we published to unpack the results.

Known as VR Usage & Consumer Attitudes, Wave VI, it follows similar reports over the past few years. Five waves of research now bring new insights and trend data to light. And all five waves represent a collective six-digit sum of U.S. adults for robust longitudinal analysis.

Among the topics tackled: How is VR resonating with everyday consumers? How often are they using it? How satisfied are they? What types of experiences do they like most? How much are they willing to pay for it? And for those who aren’t interested in VR… why not?

The Uninitiated

Sticking with that last point, what’s the adoption likelihood for non-VR users? This is a key question because that’s the segment that represents VR’s growth opportunity in the coming years. The short answer is that it will be an uphill climb to get the uninitiated excited about VR.

Diving into the numbers, 23 percent of survey respondents have used VR at least once in one form or another (ownership, VR arcades, or trying a friend’s headset). That pegs the industry’s target for converting new users at 77 percent. This signals ample growth headroom.

But the positive news mostly ends there. When asking the same non-users if they are interested in trying VR in the next 12 months, the majority (61 percent) are not. 18 percent are interested, and 21 percent aren’t sure. The latter indicates that more education is needed.

As for the 18 percent that is interested, that’s down from 20 percent in Wave V (2021). Though this is a decline, it’s positive news that the precipitous drop from 29 percent in 2020 has leveled off. That drop represents a steady decline in VR interest following its circa 2017 hype cycle.

Which VR Headsets Do Users Like Most?

Why Not?

Equally important to adoption interest (or disinterest) is the reason. Price is a factor at 36 percent of respondents. But the greatest response (61 percent) was the rather discouraging “just not interested.” This contrasts VR users’ satisfaction levels that we covered recently.

This divergence between users and non-users underscores VR’s fundamental marketing challenge. Its immersion is its greatest strength. But it’s also the greatest weakness in that the experience can’t be captured through traditional marketing. It’s like “selling TVs on the radio.”

This challenge is exacerbated by VR’s cost and set-up friction. Getting people to try it – after which they’re often converted – is made more difficult given all that activation energy. This includes things like expensive hardware, setting up a play area, and orienting oneself.

This chicken-and-egg dilemma will continue to challenge mainstream VR adoption. Meanwhile, accelerants include standalone VR, which can bring that first taste to more users by lowering friction (and price). This will be a moving target for VR and a gradual climb.

We’ll pause there and circle back in the next installment with more survey data. Meanwhile, see the full report here.

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