Virtually brilliant: the place of VR and AR

Virtual and augmented reality are taking the media world by storm by getting closer to the consumer than ever before.

Some of the most innovative brands on the market have already introduced impressive VR technology, but we can expect to see much more, and to experience a change in the way we go about everyday life. If you want your brand to float through the virtual flood, you’ll have to know what’s coming – so read on.

Heighten the retail experience

The immersive nature of VR and AR technology enables stores to create unique and memorable customer experiences. VR is almost always experienced in-store, and has proven to be a springboard for businesses wanting to increase store traffic. The uniqueness of the experience is part of what makes it so attractive to consumers, as it allows them to see and better understand how a particular product will fit into their daily lives. VR also combines the tangibility of in-store with the convenience of online shopping, making it a great alternative to the process of searching online and buying in-store.

Ikea has jumped on the new technology, enabling customers to test the look of its furniture in their own homes before they dust off the trailer or hire a mover van to bring it home. Virtual reality also allows customers to “try on” clothing and accessories without leaving their house, thanks to brands like Neiman Marcus, so you can go window shopping without the glass.

Try before you buy

Amongst the handy benefits of VR and AR technology is the ability to ‘experience’ products before making that all-important purchase. The benefit of ‘trying before buying’ is impacting customers’ buying decisions everywhere from inside their homes to destinations around the world through travel agencies. Furniture companies are beginning to offer AR technology which enables consumers to see their chosen pieces inside their homes, and car companies are enabling prospective buyers to take cars for a virtual test drive. The technology even has its place in fashion retail, enabling consumers to virtually apply makeup using virtual applications.

The bottom line? VR and AR are the most effective methods at present for experiencing real product benefits without risking a poor purchase decision.

Give better service

VR and AR technologies aren’t just for customers alone; they’re also big news for staff in any customer-facing role, allowing them to experience what their client or customer experiences. Microsoft Hololens’ AR technology enables the user to engage with digital and holographic content in real time, a development which has had a significant impact upon the way companies train their staff. The emphasis on developing muscle memory over intellectual memory alone has the potential to dramatically improve the learning process in hands-on workplaces, ultimately leading to more effective service and happier customers.

VR is much the same, with the added benefit of building enthusiasm through the novelty of game-like training systems, and also has applications in training new drivers – a huge plus for anxious parents.

The place of advertising in VR

When it comes to selling just about anything, there’s a lot to be said for the power of showing rather than telling. Your average consumer isn’t overly trusting of advertising communications, and it’s becoming harder to reach them through the daily media clutter, but showing them product benefits is a sure-fire way of garnering greater interest. If you can show your potential customers just how much better your furniture looks in their house than the furniture your competitors sell, you’re onto a good thing, and the experience will be a resonant one.

Lynx, Absolut Vodka, Coca Cola, Pepsi Max, and Pizza Hut are amongst the brands already on the VR train, having created everything from 3D video tours of foreign villages to virtual polar bear experiences.

VR even has its place in movie franchises, enabling audiences to experience situations from their favourite films. The Saw franchise promoted the release of their latest instalment through a virtual reality project which enabled movie fans to become part of the story in a very real way, leaving them vulnerable to a gruesome virtual death, and ultimately making them more invested in the film than ever before.

At JSA, we are looking forward to seeing how VR and AR will impact business development, particularly as the momentum behind digital transformation is so strong at the moment. We hope these technologies are used as part of proper digital transformation, keeping in mind the needs and wants of customers and clients in order to service a particular goal. If these technologies are used without a proper digital strategy, it might be a slippery slope into the realm of digital replacement.

If you are looking to improve customer experience through an effective digital strategy, get in contact with us today.