VR & Marketing : A blog by Eileen Donaghey; CIM Communications Ambassador (Ireland)

Before I attended the Virtual Reality and Marketing event last month held in the new Digital Catapult building, I thought this is something I would never need to use in my job. Something that is so far into the future that I will be happily retired by the time it was going to provide any real value to marketers. Oh how I was wrong!

So what did I learn?

There are two types of virtual reality:

  1. Cinematic - which captures real time events using more than one camera
  2. Interactive- which is 3D animation software which appeals to more than one sense.

I was listening to this surrounding by a variety of very expensive looking headsets wondering how a room full of marketers could use this. Here are the surprising industries that marketers are already using VR to boost sales and improve their marketing.

Tourism

This goes back to the old " try before you buy idea." Yes you can sit on a bike before you buy it but you can't quite do that with a holiday. Thomas Cook has successfully used virtual reality in 2016 to give potential tourists the experience of what somewhere is like without ruining the reality of it. This means people are more likely to feel excited and want to buy. Their success story was having over a 190% increase in sales for a campaign for holidays to New York.

Charity

Clouds over Sidra was a VR experience arranged by Unicef. The video created empathy by following a 12- year old Syrian refugee in order to create a fundraising campaign. This campaign worked so well because people felt more emotion for the child and pledged more money compared to what they normally would if they had only have seen the video. Seemly they used only a headset and smart phone to create this. Understandably marketing budgets for a lot of charities are not extensive however the cheapest headset I found is £26.99 so it isn't outside of the realms of possibility.

Manufacturing

If Jeremy Clarkson has taught me anything it is that people love cars and gadgets. BMW combined both for the pre-sales of their new model giving people the experience of what the car was like without actually sitting in it. They cleverly let people test out the headsets after signing up with their telephone and email address in order to capture their data. This mean that they were able to follow up and target these people specifically to drive business.

Drinks Industry

Corona ran a huge PR event using VR to let Mexicans experience what is like to be outside of Mexico city. They used extra senses like heat and smell in order to do this adding to the experience. This is something that hasn't been done before and because of its popularity they ran it in more than one setting.

Other examples included universities and research and the food industry. The range of sectors already successfully using virtual reality is much higher than I had originally thought. How could you use VR in your job? I'm not sure yet how the professional service industry could use it but who knows what could happen in a few years.