This is part two of our month-long coverage of VR and You (catchy right? not really). Check out our high-level VR landscape summary from part one.
It’s funny, I tend to be someone who is really hesitant about most new technologies. Once people find out that I work in product development/strategy, they’re usually shocked by this fact. I think it comes down to a way of thinking: Do you think like a customer or a marketer? As well as the idea of right place and right time. Remember Microsoft created a tablet and “smart”watch years ago, but it never stuck. Would argue that right place and time got last due to many factors: hardware, software, and execution.
Virtual Reality for Marketers
I can see why the Marketer loves new technologies. Unfortunately, it’s been the lowest common denominator in terms of thinking when it comes to how to monetize a product. If you can’t figure how to monetize then, “we can always sell ads”. More screens just means more ways for people to push things you don’t want into your face. I tend to think like a consumer as much as possible in the development of any strategies or products. That usually means thinking “where am I experiencing the friction? How can I make a decision faster? How does this thing entertain or benefit me?”
VR is great because there aren’t a whole lot of ways for traditional marketers to leverage it, even though they are trying. At Zemoga we build stuff. So we love the prospect of building experiences for our clients on VR. Letting an experience add value/entertainment to the end user is the best form of marketing.
Virtual Reality for Brands
So what does that mean for you, Brand? How can you leverage VR? Well, you have to ask yourself a couple questions:
Am I poised to support VR strategy post launch of my VR initiative?
Is what I am trying to create capable of being better experienced IRL?
The answer to these questions for most is probably, “no”.
A great example is what Audi recently did with VR.
In short, the VR experience helps give the potential Audi driver a sense of what it’s like to be inside the car. You see where this is going right?
Why would I need have the “experience” of a door shutting or the sound of the audio system? Wouldn’t the best way to provide that be from actually sitting inside one of their gorgeous cars? Listening to their incredible sound system and feeling the engine as I press on the gas. I love Audis, but is the Audi so out of reach for most customers that VR would help convert on a purchase? Or heighten the experience? I would argue “no”.
I can see VR being very applicable, however, for the customer looking to buy a Gulfstream G650. There is no way to know what a custom G650 looks like because they are built from scratch for their customers. Sure, I can see inside one that’s already been built, but every Gulfstream jet has literally millions of configurations internally (they have over 2,000 types of leathers to choose from alone). VR could be a great way to help a buyer see exactly why they’re spending 100 million dollars.
The type of person looking to spend $70-120k on an Audi, however, wants to sit in that Audi, because it’s a product that isn’t that far out of reach or that provides so many custom details that even a base model S8 couldn’t communicate it’s value. Also, they aren’t in short supply. Every local dealer will keep these products on site, they’ll even come pick you up in one. So again, the IRL experience is far better than the VR one could ever be. So to me, this VR play was nothing more than a PR play. That isn’t to say it’s a bad thing, but it only adds value to the brand, not the consumer. I know you can make the “customer perception argument”, but the VR experience isn’t going to make the close. It’s going to be sitting behind the wheel of that S8 that will make them choose it over the Mercedes S class.
This is the reason why the gaming industry is running full speed ahead with VR. It’s their job to create worlds we could never experience IRL. Environments that don’t truly exist IRL made possible to experience through VR.
Does this mean as a brand you shouldn’t be thinking about and playing with VR? Absolutely not. You should be investing time into how the tech works and looking to explore ways to bring experiences to life for your customers. Just let this governing strategy guide you:
Can the experience we want to create be better IRL? If the answer is “yes,” move on to another idea.
Next week we’re going to hit on part 3, which is about UX and VR. Be sure to check back in and be sure to tweet at us if you love or hate what we said @zemoga.