Straight Outta SX

 By: David Richeson, Digital Innovation

Virtual Reality is Cool, but is it Strategic for Brands?

While Virtual Reality (VR) was making a lot of noise at SXSW this year, the applications were still mostly in entertainment: two brands showed VR rollercoasters and I saw a video game and a helicopter ride over NYC. I also saw some very practical applications, like showing home floor plans to tour a home virtually.

But is VR really ready for use as a tool for marketers? Here are two very smart applications I saw that should serve as inspiration for brand marketers:

Lufthansa Encourages Trade-Up At Airport Check-In
The best application I saw for a brand was by Lufthansa Airlines. They have VR kiosks at check-in where people can get the experience of First or Business Class travel, complete with the actual seats and virtual dinner service. After feeling the difference between their current level of travel and the one they just experienced, many people upgrade on the spot. And it probably only takes a few upgrades to deliver ROI at this critical moment.

The North Face Immerses Consumers In The Outdoor Experience In-Store
The North Face excites consumers and connects their brand to outdoor sports by showing a 360° VR film of extreme bungee jumping off of a cliff – while actually doing it isn’t for everyone, the thrill of virtually experiencing it is enticing to North Face consumers and brings them closer to the brand. The North Face also fulfills their brand promise by providing this experience: to inspire people to spend more time outdoors.

The Bottom Line

VR can create an immersive brand experience that can affect outcomes at strategic moments in the consumer journey. Marketers need to define what those critical moments are and where VR experience can add value and inspire a desired action from consumers. Maybe next we’ll be seeing VR goggles at store end-caps to transport consumers into the brand experience and, most importantly, close the deal.

David brings over 20 years of experience in business strategy, creative writing, technology, integrated marketing, and social media to develop and execute 360-degree communications campaigns that drive action and advocacy for brands. His expertise in real-time digital communications and analytics has helped drive measurable growth for brands in many different industries.

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