Only a decade ago, using technologies like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) was incredibly expensive and the market was virtually nonexistent. Now, virtual reality is an exciting technology for developers and consumers alike. The VR and AR markets have enormous growth potential. According to Statista, the market for VR software and hardware will grow to $40 billion. This year alone, they project the market will grow to $12.1 billion, doubling last year’s figure.
The VR and AR markets are set to grow so there’s plenty of room to enter the space. Even if you’re not looking to enter those markets directly, there are numerous ways VR could help your company, especially in B2C and considered purchase contexts.
In this blog, I’ll explain how other companies have used VR and AR and we’ll explore the potential for marketers.
VR/AR Potential: Realized
Using VR/AR to market your company is easier than you think. Hardware is much cheaper, and as a result, many consumers are participating in these technologies. Developing an app that is related to your existing products or services can be a great way to market your product. VR and AR apps have populated Android and Apple app stores.
IKEA has used AR, for example, to allow you to place furniture in your home. All the user has to do is download the app, browse products, and point their phone’s camera at the space they’d like to test out. Consumers are able to interact with products without ever setting foot in the store. Sephora developed a similar application, in which a user points the beauty app at their face and can try out different makeup products virtually.
Storytelling as Strategy
Augmented reality isn’t the only marketing tool, either. There are several examples of integrating virtual reality into storytelling. Bjork, the avant-garde pop artist, used VR to create interesting 360-degree music videos. The user simply needs a Google Cardboard headset and a smartphone to be transported into the music video. She received a great deal of press due to this integration, which helped her promote her album.
The New York Times, and other prestigious, storied newspapers, have struggled to stay relevant in the digital age. As readership slumped and subscriptions dropped, print media had to think of innovative ways to gain readers. The New York Times has done well to stay relevant on the internet by improving upon their digital and online editions and by attracting new readers through experimentation.
One such experiment is NYTVR, The New York Times’ VR series of stories. In these VR stories, readers are transported. Instead of simply reading about Syrian refugees, you can travel alongside them, virtually. Viewers immerse themselves, forming much stronger, much more visceral empathetic reactions.
You don’t have to be a giant furniture chain, a pop singer, or a large newspaper to use VR to help your business though. You don’t even have to develop your own app to fully realize the existing VR and AR technologies. Being open to using VR and AR to improve your design processes can help designers, managers, and office workers make innovative products, improve workflow, or come up with new management ideas.
VR can help your business in manifold ways. How you choose to use VR, of course, is completely up to you. Simply being open to exposing yourself and your employees to the technology can help you come up with some rather innovative ideas and designs. VR and AR apps can also help you reach your target market in new and interesting ways, and therefore, are great for marketing purposes. VR can also help your customer know your product or service in a different way. Just like The New York Times is using VR to reinvent the news story, you can use VR to reinvent your product.
Get to know VR and AR apps, expose your company to the technology, and consider employing the technology to improve your marketing efforts, your design efforts, and your product or service as a whole.
What potential do you see for VR and AR within your business? How have you seen VR and AR used successfully? Tell me about your experiences in the comments.