Virtual reality, or VR, while still far from being mainstream, has proven itself as a technology with great potential in the fields of interactive entertainment, while also having many applications in scientific fields and nearly every avenue of business. From the automotive sector, to aviation, HR and more, every sector stands to benefit from VR implementation.
After all, VR use within businesses is forecasted to grow from $829 million in 2018 to $4.26 billion in 2023, according to ARtillery Intelligence.
Marketing is one of the areas best suited to the world of VR, presenting unique opportunities for consumer engagement on a massive scale that were never possible before.
Here are 5 ways marketers are using VR tech.
1. Burj Khalifa VR experience
Last year, AMEinfo interviewed Game Cooks, the Lebanese indie game studio that designed one of Burj Khalifa’s VR experiences that visitors can experience at the top floors of the tower.
Available across a handful of HTC Vive VR stations, and dubbed “Dubai – Rising Falcon,” the experience has users sitting in a helicopter with open doors, allowing for an exciting (and vertigo-inducing!) view of Dubai from above. The helicopter then lands on the Burj, after which you’re asked to walk to a protruding beam that leaves you standing in the wind (literally as well, since a large fan linked to the VR set up simulates natural wind), a step away from falling. It is then that you take flight as a virtual falcon, controlling its flight as it circles the tower and the city below.
Having tried an early build at the Game Cooks studios, I was thoroughly thrilled by the experience. I can only begin to imagine what it would feel like for tourists visiting the Burj itself, trying the experience dozens of floors above the ground.
This is one of the many ways we are seeing companies use exciting VR tourist experiences to market a certain attraction.
2. Emirates’ VR experiences
Emirates has always been one of the greatest innovators in the region, and when it comes to marketing their services, they’ve wholeheartedly jumped on the VR train.
One of their VR marketing offerings available in Dubai Mall is The Emirates A380 Experience, named after the airline’s largest jet. Strap on your headset and take to the skies in an A380 cockpit, allowing you to fly to select famous airports, while choosing the weather conditions for the trip.
Another offering is called “The Emirates Experience,” which let users explore the aircraft cabins of their A380 or Being 777 jets, viewing and interacting with a virtual Economy and First Class, the onboard Shower Spa, and more.
3. Walmart introduces VR shopping
Over the years, Walmart has been no stranger to implementing VR across its business. In fact, it has been training employees using the technology since 2017.
In the years that followed, Walmart’s marketing department integrated VR into its retail strategy, allowing customers to take a virtual shopping tour across a virtual store in a fully rendered 3D space, allowing customers to interact and buy products.
4. VR test drivesThe COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the automotive industry, with many not opting for a significant investment like buying a vehicle at a time when they can’t travel around much.
According to data from research firm IHS Markit, “global light vehicle sales are forecast to be down 22% to 70.3 million units this year in the wake of COVID-19.”
As a result, automotive manufacturers are turning to VR to keep quarantined customers engaged with their brands. This is being done mainly through the use of VR test drives that clients are able to experience to stimulate interest in new models. To date, car brands like Audi, Porsche, and Jaguar are dabbling with this, among others.
5. The North Face takes customers on a VR hike
The outdoor apparel brand The North Face is known for its marketing campaigns centering on the joy of the outdoors, and their VR-powered campaign in 2015 focused on just that. The North Face teleported users to the Yosemite National Park in the US, known for its breathtaking expanses of green and granite.
“We’re never going to replace the actual experience of actually being in Yosemite,” Oliver said. “But if we can get someone who’s never been there and inspire to them get outdoors, it fulfills the purpose.” Eric Oliver, director of digital marketing at The North Face, told the Digiday news site.
At the end of the day, it’s as Oliver said. Emirates is using its VR experiences to get you to fly with them, automakers want to entice you to fall in love with their latest vehicles to trigger a sale, and The North Face is using a virtual experience to give you a taste of the real thing, so that you buy their products and head to the outdoors. VR is a temporary subsitute, but a very powerful one, and unlike any other consumer engagement tool available to marketers.