VR is no longer just for video games and movies. Many companies have started using the technology to advertise products, ushering in a new era of marketing and shopping. Here’s how to use it to the greatest effect.

Standing Out From the Crowd

One of the biggest benefits of incorporating VR into your marketing strategy is differentiating your brand from competitors. Although many companies have started using VR, it’s still a relatively new strategy. Businesses that use it could have a strategic advantage over brands still relying on traditional advertising.

VR’s spatial cousin, AR, is often viewed in this same light given the growing prevalence and popularity of virtual product try-ons. In fact, a Google consumer survey found that 66% of people are interested in using AR for help when looking for a product. But VR is increasingly signaling value in accomplishing a similar end. How is that playing out and what flavors of VR marketing hold the most promise? Let’s examine a few.

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1. Immersive Product Demonstrations

Which is easier — stocking a showroom with thousands of pounds of furniture or letting people view the products in their own homes? For IKEA, the choice to use VR was obvious.

The company’s virtual reality showroom lets people shop for couches, beds, and dining room sets from the comfort of their home, visualizing what the products might look like in their space.

Mobile VR demonstrations save companies time and money they would otherwise spend on physical displays. They can also make the impossible possible. For example, the marketing team behind the LiftMaster — a machine that lifts, sorts, and loads large steel sheets onto pallets — created a VR experience to showcase its equipment. It’s much easier to show customers the product in a headset than physically haul it to tradeshows around the country.

People can use VR to view products from anywhere in the world, opening up markets customers might normally overlook. VR also allows people to access customer service or tech support while shopping, just as they would in a brick-and-mortar store.

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2. Giving Customers a Taste

A static picture of a chicken dumpling may fail to whet people’s appetites. But what about an interactive, 3D model of the same entree — replete with steam and sizzling sound effects — that people can view on a digital plate? Many companies use AR and VR experiences to market their products more effectively.

For example, brewery Innis & Gunn gave bar patrons two signature beer flavors, then had them wear a VR headset while drinking. Customers looked at various Scottish landscapes while sipping their drinks and felt transported beyond the pub’s walls. Although using VR may not have improved the beer’s flavor profile, the marketing campaign generated a lot of buzz over the brand.

Increasing brand awareness and customer engagement is one of the most significant benefits of using VR. It gives companies greater visibility, relevance, and prestige, putting businesses in customers’ minds and boosting brand loyalty.

Virtual reality also gives people a clearer picture of how a product works or what it is like to experience it. If a picture is worth a thousand words, a VR shopping experience is worth 10,000 — it gives people more details in just a few seconds than they’d get from several minutes’ worth of reading.

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3. Personalizing Ads

If people can see how a product might benefit them personally, they’re much more likely to buy it. Perhaps that’s why in 2020, customer purchases accounted for 53% of total AR and VR spending. Bringing products to life improves consumer confidence and helps move people down the sales funnel.

In VR or AR, you aren’t just watching a stranger use the product you’re interested in — you can try it virtually for yourself. Seeing how big a phone looks in your hand is much more intuitive than reading its measurements, breaking out a ruler, and measuring your pants pockets to see if the phone will fit. You can actually picture yourself using the device.

Ahead of the Curve

VR will continue to evolve in its capabilities to market products. Companies can display their goods directly in people’s homes, give shoppers a better idea of how their products work, increase customer confidence and navigate technical challenges. Before long, virtual reality may be one of the hottest shopping avenues available. Businesses should get on board with it now to stand out in an increasingly competitive world.

Devin Partida is Editor-in-Chief of Rehack and editorial contributor at AR Insider. See her work here and follow her @rehackmagazine.


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