In the world of marketing, nothing stays the same for long. There is always something new coming to engage with prospects and customers. Virtual reality and augmented technology (VR/AR) have arrived to shake up the digital marketing game, just like social media did just a few short years ago. VR/AR is being adopted quickly by major brands to give customers an immersive, interactive experience they have never had before. The time is now to consider how VR/AR can jumpstart your digital marketing strategy. Let’s look at some successful examples of how VR/AR can take marketing to a new level.
Lowe’s, the home improvement retail behemoth, developed a ‘Holoroom’ that allows customers to see what their home will look like after a home renovation. The company built a virtual reality kitchen design experience that uses a Microsoft Hololens headset. Customers stand in a showroom kitchen, and virtually build their dream kitchen by choosing design features including cabinetry, hardware, countertops and appliances. They have also developed VR projects for do-it-yourself skills, like tiling and using power tools. The sensory engagement customers experience in virtual reality has led to 36 per cent better recall for the steps they have learned, and increased product confidence by 127 percent.1
The company is also converting its physical product catalogue into a 3D content library. This will allow customers to view products from all sides, provide better colour matching and help them see how the product will look in their home. Lowe’s has learned through their 3D pilot project that they get a 10 to 50 per cent conversion lift in sales when 3D content is available.2
Ikea has embraced VR/AR over the last few years. In 2017, they launched an AR game for new store openings, that gave customers in an immersive Ikea store experience.3 They could play games like a virtual pillow toss and hang out with a virtual panda.4 Customers spent an average three to five minutes playing games, examining furniture or learning about design.5 The company also developed an AR mobile app, which allows customers to see how potential purchases would look in their homes.6 For larger purchases like furniture, an AR app that lets customers experience the product before taking it home is a marketer’s dream. It can eliminate returns and increases conversions from customers that had previously been unsure because they couldn’t visualize how the purchase would fit into their space or their life.
Closer to home, Medicine Hat real estate development company Coulee Ridge has created a 3D/VR experience for potential buyers to experience the land before purchasing. “We knew we needed a experiential immersive experience and virtual reality would do just that. From our first event it worked extremely well; we were able to make specific sales based on the VR experience,” says Don Sandford at Coulee Ridge Development Inc. Created by Regina’s Melcher Studios, the experience lets users view lots, explore the development’s walkways and take a tour of the lake. “A VR experience like the one we created for Coulee Ridge lets users really feel what their new property will be like,” says Dwayne Melcher, president of Melcher Studios. “Coulee Ridge wanted an experience that would wow potential customers, and this VR experience did just that.”
By offering prospects and customers a chance to try VR/AR, companies are allowing them to connect with a product, service or brand in a new way. No matter the experience, VR/AR immerses their audience into something greater than a webpage or a store shelf. VR/AR can create a more personal experience for prospects, that can readily give customers the information and confidence needed to drive their decision making and ultimately, conversions. “As the industry grows and hardware becomes more accessible, VR/AR will naturally become part of the digital marketing world,” says Melcher. “Experiential VR can give a positive uplift to any buying experience, which is great for the bottom line.”
1,2Putting AR/VR To Work: Taking the Complexity Out Of Home Improvement http://www.lowesinnovationlabs.com/updates/2018/11/6/putting-arvr-to-work-taking-the-complexity-out-of-home-improvement
3,4,5,6Ikea Is Stepping Into Virtual Reality by Creating a Game for New Store Openings https://www.adweek.com/digital/ikea-is-stepping-into-virtual-reality-by-creating-a-game-for-new-store-openings/