Augmented and virtual reality are the way forward for marketers who are invested in remaining on the cutting edge. The experiences they presents to customers are new and innovative, and for marketers they allow for research opportunities that make those of the past pale in comparison.
Those of us who participate in the marketing industry have known for years that AR and VR have been part of a trend to watch. The IDC predicts that by this year global spending on augmented and virtual reality will reach $17.8 billion. That’s because the marketing industry understands the fact that there is nothing else on the horizon that can promise the same results.
What It Is
Augmented and virtual realities are similar, but they are separate tools that are utilized to accomplish distinct goals. So, for example, applications using augmented reality may utilize a social media lens to make it appear on a mobile device screen that you’re in a forest. Virtual reality, on the other hand, gives you the experience of being in the forest; it is fully immersive.
For marketers, it’s important to recognize that both entities are crucial as we move through the current digital transformation. Infront Webworks report that, “The number of marketers who consider branded content cost effective and overall more successful than print advertising is 72%.”
But it’s no longer enough to merely shift efforts to a digital platform; if you’re a marketer who isn’t aware of the impact and potential of AR, you will be left behind. Virtual realities are the front lines of business being able to deliver the best possible customer experience, thus driving the most conversions possible.
How It Alters Marketing Research
For a long time, marketers have predominantly relied on what they can record about customers’ observable behavior. Data revolved around the documented tendencies of customers, and that was then used to better understand a company’s customer base.
Today, market research is about understanding not just what a customer chooses but ultimately why. Researchers understand that if they can understand the motivation behind customer behavior, they can predict what will drive their actions, and they can thus tailor both products and marketing strategies to target that underlying motivation.
According to the business specialists at Rutgers University, “Virtual reality presents businesses with an opportunity to study their audience in greater depth than ever before in a cost-effective manner,” and “Virtual reality enables researchers to examine customer behavior without wasting money in trial-and-error in physical stores or collecting opinions in isolation.”
Essentially the doors that virtual reality opens for market research include its cost- and time-saving capabilities, as well as the fact that more can be tested, more thoroughly than ever before.
How Marketing Efforts Change
Practically speaking, this is going to look different for each industry. The exciting thing about virtual realities is that there is more room for marketers to create highly specific, dynamic strategies and tools to impact their customer base.
The overarching truth is that this helps marketers understand who customers are and how they make purchasing decisions.
As New Jersey Institute of Technology notes, “Augmented reality centers around creating a relationship between users and the physical world. Companies use augmented reality as a platform to keep users and consumers connected with their brand … With AR, they are able to interact with brand and product images before, during, and after they’ve made a purchase.”
Some creative examples of this in action include:
Three-Dimensional Advertisements. Historically, advertisements have existed on screens in 2-D. However, as augmented reality becomes more mainstream, 3-D advertisements will as well, and they will change how customers think about products and services.
Virtual Tours. Brick-and-mortar stores will be able to offer virtual ways for customers to interact with products. Not only will virtual tours provide a way for customers to interact with the product, it also adds an engaging, more interactive component to the buying process. Can you imagine being able to try on a dozen pairs of pants without ever actually undressing?
E-Commerce Potential. Even more captivating than the potential of augmented realities in traditional storefronts, the future of AR absolutely will include further e-commerce experiences that will bridge the gap between the digital experience and the experience of purchasing in-store.
Why It Works
It works because it creates connection where before there was none. Specifically, organizations can more consistently generate the types of responses in consumers that prompt those individuals to become repeat customers.
Augmented reality company Lampix when customers have the opportunity to see and feel products, they connect with and attach to products in a new way.
Thus, while at this point, VR approaches come with a fair amount of risk, they also come with serious potential payouts. Innovation impresses customers and creates the type of experience that inevitably make an impression.
As Facebook’s CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, said in 2014, “There’s always a richer, more immersive medium to experience the world. And after video, the next logical step is fully immersive virtual reality.”
At this point, his prediction holds true. Marketers will no doubt continue to push the boundaries and explore the ways in which tech can serve the overall goal of providing marketing research results that are groundbreaking. The future will also see marketing campaigns that connect with customer bases in such a way that the connection in achieved, maintained, and bolstered by the experiences brought by forms of virtual reality.