Virtual reality has been around a while now and in recent years the technology has had a revival. VR was on the lips of everyone in the marketing industry. Although VR has become big business in the gaming world, it hasn't moved as far forward as expected in marketing. We discuss why VR and immersive marketing are now ready to really take off!
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Why have brands been slow to progress with VR?
Brands need to take a leap with new marketing trends and immersive experience marketing tactics. The two main barriers to progress with VR in marketing are due to technology moving faster than some brands can keep up with and businesses being cautious to invest in the technology.
Amidst all the buzz around Oculus Rift, when it was finally unleashed in early 2016, many brands and marketers still held fears over the cost, the longevity of the hype and the value of the proposition. There have been too many false dawns with VR, summed up well in The Verge's review of Oculus Rift at the time of its release: "Virtual reality is always almost here."
Beyond the gaming industry, there's been a mindset that VR is just a glossy enhancement of the customer experience rather than a revolutionary transformation – similar to some feeling towards 3D technology. The success of VR is linked to the bravery level of brands to embrace virtual reality and immersive technology.
Which brands are doing it well?
Here are three brands who've had success with VR and delivered immersive marketing experiences for their customers:
In May 2017, Topshop dipped their feet into the VR waters again – they previously broadcasted live at AW London Fashion Week in immersive 360, allowing shoppers in Oxford Street to view models walking the catwalk in Tate Modern. This time the fashion retailer used VR headsets to enable consumers at their flagship West End store, with the help of a slide installation, to view Oxford Street transformed into a giant water slide experience. They certainly made a splash!
Meantime Brewing Company
Meantime has often been a trendsetter in the beer brewing industry, in terms of engaging branding and demonstrating marketing innovation, but it was their virtual brewery tour that took them into the world of immersive marketing.
Meantime's 360-degree virtual reality tour was savvy move from the beer heroes in Greenwich, enhancing their customer experience and brand reputation, whilst delivering storytelling marketing to get their customers closer to the people and character behind the brand.
The North Face
Outdoor clothing brand The North Face created a series of 360-degree video experiences with Jaunt VR, including treks across Yosemite National Park and adventures in Nepal.
The immersive videos are a perfect fit for the brand and give customers an insight into the extreme conditions and natural experiences that their products were created for. It embodies the values of the brand and enhances the notion of adventure. The videos are available on various devices, and they were unveiled in North Face stores using Oculus headsets.
What are the key opportunities for immersive marketing?
Rightmove trialled a 360-degree video viewing experience in 2016 and showed the potential for bringing house viewing into the modern day, especially if you consider how fast houses are being snatched up to buy or rent in London – sometimes before people have arrived at their viewing slot!
London football club Tottenham Hotspur gave their fans an exclusive view into the future vision of their new stadium, due to be finished in time for 2018/19 season. The club shared cutting-edge 360-degree digital stadium plan videos to its social media channels, before unveiling an entire website and app dedicated to the new stadium. Talk about building anticipation – and what a way to give fans an exciting, immersive brand experience!
There are plenty of other ways to embrace the latest marketing trends and immersive experience marketing content, such as live video streaming and brand storytelling with social Stories, which give your audience more engaging brand experiences.
With mobile technology increasingly empowering everyday mobile users to create dynamic content with their phone cameras, consumer expectations are at an all-time high. Marketers need to keep up and brands must aim to meet customer expectations. Expect to see brands investing significant time and resources into VR and immersive marketing. Get inspired!
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