Like something out of a sci-fi movie, virtual reality (VR) seemed like a concept eons away from ever reaching its full potential. Fast forward to the present day, and most companies, regardless of industry, are incorporating virtual reality into business strategies, be it through advertising, marketing or overarching growth plans. By integrating VR into different industry settings, companies are finding new ways of reaching potential customers on emotional and personal levels, leading to increased consumer to brand engagement. Due to the constantly evolving nature of the business world, company owners and entrepreneurs are finding new ways to reach their customer base, with VR at the forefront.
Here are four industries that have implemented immersive media tactics in order to better connect with consumers on a deeper level:
- Real Estate: Open houses have typically been the best way for interested leasers to view a commercial real estate property. Virtual reality enhances the open house experience by allowing potential renters to see the space in any state: completely empty, filled with furniture, painted different colors or any which way a buyer desires. By adopting VR, the real estate industry also taps into the audience that may not be able to attend open houses due to a number of factors, including distance or time constraints. Virtual tours help potential renters walk through properties to ascertain all the features of a property without actually being present. An interactive aspect can also be added to the tour as well, with hotspots that will take buyers to different sections of the house, allowing them to explore the property on their own terms and at their own pace. But the true value in incorporating VR into real estate comes down to how it affects the bottom line. Virtual open houses allow real estate companies to allocate agents and funds to more necessary tasks including seeking out the next potential listing. also benefit by saving time on their house search, enabling multiple properties to fit within their schedule.
- Retail: The retail industry’s early adoption of VR has manifold reasons. By employing immersive experiences, retailers can reinvent employee training and amplify customer loyalty, for starters. Retail powerhouse Walmart has incorporated virtual reality into its training programs, allowing employees, ironically, a more hands-on experience when it comes to dealing with in-store scenarios. The program lets employees walk through example events that may occur while on their shift, ranging from a spill in an aisle to how to deal with customers during Black Friday. Many different retailers are also beginning to use VR for customer engagement. Shoe company TOMS and outerwear specialists North Face both provide in-store experiences for customers to enjoy while they are shopping. TOMS transports customers to Peru to see the company motto “one for one” at work, as school children are delivered shoes they desperately need. North Face shows customers what it is like to be rock climbing in Yosemite and Moab, getting an immersive view into how the North Face team prepares for their climbs. Both experiences provide in-store entertainment and exposure to the corporate ethos that would otherwise be impossible without the help of virtual reality. With the installation of the virtual reality training program, Walmart is leading the change in how retail conglomerates train employees. By implementing virtual training, Walmart and other retailers will be saving money in training programs as well as the time of the employees and managers. The in-store VR experiences that transport consumers to another reality are intimate ways to increase brand affinity and ensure customer loyalty, resulting in sales.
- Music: The music industry has a lot to offer when it comes to VR - both musicians and consumers can benefit greatly from the application of the technology. Many different artists are experimenting with VR music videos and experiences, offering fans fully immersive experiences. With the help of VR, musicians are able to play out more extreme or abstract concepts that the confines of conventional mediums don’t allow. Fans are also able to connect with their favorite bands on a deeper level because of the ability to live the music rather than just seeing a flat representation on a screen. What’s more, immersive content tied to specific artists opens up additional revenue streams for merchandise and ticket sales. When it comes to learning how to play an instrument, the budget-conscious and musically challenged also turn to VR. Virtual reality allows potential dynamos to own instruments without actually having to purchase them. Applications like “The Music Room” let users to experience what it’s like to play the drums, guitar and keyboard using motion-tracking controllers. With instruments being pricey, potential buyers can test out different instruments before making a costly commitment.
- Media: Everyday, virtual reality technology is becoming more refined and accessible to the masses, lending itself perfectly to journalistic endeavors. News and information that is currently available in print, online or on TV will become a much more robust and enriching experience when presented through the medium of virtual reality. VR journalism allows for immersive news coverage of historical moments including Obama’s farewell address, Trump’s presidential rally and a look into the war torn city of Falluja, enabling viewers to understand what it was like to be at the event/scene and eliciting strong emotions. In addition to stirring up empathetic feelings in viewers, VR also opens up creative avenues for journalists, propelling the media industry into the future and resurrecting fledgling readership and viewership numbers.
While the potential of virtual reality within different industries is yet to be determined, music, real estate and retail businesses have made major strides in the space. These pioneering industries prove VR is quickly becoming a mainstream technology that will be more fully adopted as the technology progresses even more in the future.