Using Virtual and Augmented Reality in Experiential Marketing


In 2017, it seems as though we live in a world that is saturated with marketing messages and advertisements. By constantly being plugged into a laptop, tablet or smartphone, it’s easy for consumers to become immune to the messages being thrown at us 24/7. However in this new digital age, many companies are starting to adopt an experiential marketing strategy to help differentiate themselves from their competitors. Defined by BostInno as messaging you can not only see, but touch, hear, and feel in a physical space, experiential marketing helps to strengthen bond between brand and consumer, doing more than traditional advertising alone.

So how are companies implementing experiential marketing and how are they making their products stand out? The answer seems like something out of the future: virtual reality and augmented reality. While virtual reality is a computer generation that stimulates both vision and hearing of users making them feel as though they are experiencing the simulated reality directly, augmented reality blends digital components into the real world allowing users to interact with virtual contents in real world while still being able to distinguish between the two.

If you think that VR and AR are technologies only reserved for the tech savvy elite, think again. According to CMO, there are now more ways than ever to experience virtual reality, with devices becoming simpler and more accessible. Goldman Sachs even estimates that the VR and AR markets will be worth a combined $185 billion by 2025, compared to their combined $5.2 billion worth in 2016.

With this projected growth, it seems as though VR and AR are the marketing ways of the future. However while they’re still being further developed and streamlined, getting ahold of these technologies nowadays isn’t that difficult as many well known brands have already adopted these strategies. In fact, you don’t even need to go further than your smartphone to get VR and AR experiences. Snapchat, for example, uses augmented reality advertisements through snap filters. Brands reportedly spend between $250,000 and $750,000 on these ads depending on the date, geographical coverage and reach. Google has also developed their own VR app which has been downloaded 10 million times. Using a simple cardboard headset in conjunction with the app, consumers get a 360 VR experience right through their smartphones. Brands such as the New York Times utilize this platform to create special VR content to help give their subscribers a new experience through videos. And lastly, over 65 million people per month try to “catch ‘em all” while playing the insanely popular game, Pokemon Go. Since the game’s launch last summer, it has added $7.5 billion to Nintendo’s market value. Being that 62% of consumers say they feel more engaged with brands that sponsor a VR experience, it’s no wonder that these companies have already found so much success using VR and AR in simple ways.

As more companies begin to adopt this trend and VR wearables get less bulky and more practical for everyday use, researchers predict that 500 million VR headsets will be sold between 2020 and 2025, while the AR market will be worth approximately $120 billion annually. Undoubtedly, VR and AR will be extremely useful in the ecommerce market, as 63% of consumers say that testing out products virtually will help make shopping more beneficial. As a prime example, Boston-based digital ad agency, Inphantry, recently helped orchestrate a successful, immersive AR pop up exhibition in a Houston shopping mall, helping to promote Nike’s AJXX8 sneaker, one of the newer additions to the brand’s Air Jordan line. Customers were given a series of challenges to complete while wearing the shoe (i.e. dribbling, dunking, and jumping) while also wearing a Jordan branded bracelet with RFID chip (radio-frequency identification) that tracked their scores and clearance level. After completing the challenges, high scorers could then experience and Air Jordan pop-up museum and lounge. Customers were encouraged to share pictures on social media of their experience, generating buzz for the newly launched shoe. Overall, the pop up experience helped attract 2,500 users.

So, if you’re convinced that either a VR or AR experience will help your brand, experts agree there are a few things to keep in mind. First, it’s important to remember that these technologies are meant to enhance, not replace, existing marketing strategy. You should also remember to stay true to your brand’s message and make sure that VR and AR fit into the overall campaign where it makes sense. Lastly, with the increased use of VR, there will be an increased focus on the quality of the experience. As VR develops, marketers and brands will need to hone in on strategies to utilize VR and AR to deliver groundbreaking experiences that will set them apart from the rest.

Have more questions on how to bring VR and AR into your marketing strategy? Contact us.

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