Facebook’s acquisition of the Oculus for a whopping $2 billion many years ago was one of the telltale signs that virtual reality (VR) is about to go beyond its most popular niche: gaming.
The recent market reports also seem to agree. According to Statista, the global market size for both VR and augmented reality (AR) might have reached over $18 billion in 2020. By then, it could have grown more than three times its value around four years ago.
Meanwhile, GrandView Research predicted that the global market for VR alone could achieve at least 21% in compound annual growth between 2020 and 2027. In 2019, the size was already $10.32 billion.
VR isn’t new. The Sword of Damocles, the first head-mounted display, appeared in the 1960s. However, over the years, much of its use was limited to gaming. Today, many industries are exploiting it for a wide range of applications, including enhancing digital marketing.
How VR Fits in Digital Marketing
To be clear, using the technology for other applications other than gaming still needs plenty of room to mature. It can also be costly, and companies that want to use it might consider doing an employment skills test. For one, tech developers and marketers need to know the difference between AR and VR.
Nevertheless, the future seems bright, even in the digital marketing space. Here’s how it fits the field:
1. VR Appeals to Millennials and Z Generation
Two of the biggest consumer markets for brands are millennials, also known as the Y generation, and the Z generation. Although they were born in different decades, their love of tech binds them.
Various studies suggest that over 75% of millennials sleep with their mobile devices or bring these gadgets to the toilet. Sol Rogers, writing for Forbes, shared that the generation was also twice as likely to purchase a VR headset.
On the other hand, the SVP of the creative strategy department of PMX Agency Roy DeYoung once said in Inc.com that Generation Z is the first true digital natives, born when technology was in full swing.
Because of this, this group has been exposed to all sorts of content that, to capture their attention and consumer spending power, brands need to stand out. VR can help them achieve this goal.
2. VR Promotes a More Personal and Enhanced Customer Experience
One of the essential words in digital marketing is “engagement.” Customers need to be involved in the product and the brand for them to make a purchase or even become loyal buyers. An effective way to increase engagement is to boost customer experience.
Ikea is one of the companies that are using VR to provide a pleasurable experience to consumers. In 2016, it launched a VR app at Steam where users can “shrink themselves”—as if they’re a child again—and walk around a simulated kitchen. Here, they could pull drawers, cook food, or throw peelings into the waste bin.
Meanwhile, Toms maximizes VR to strengthen their brand’s core value and mission to consumers. With its Walk in Their Shoes campaign, potential buyers can sit on a VR chair and experience traveling from where they are to a community where a child benefits from another pair of Toms shoes.
VR is immersive and helps consumers become more participative in the buying process. They increase their knowledge about the products and even understand their contribution to the brand’s corporate social responsibility.
3. Virtual Reality Suits the Rapidly Growing Use of Mobile Devices
VR technology also experienced massive changes throughout the years. From being constrained in a headset, today, it can already be within mobile devices. Many apps now run or support it, and this is good news for digital marketers.
For one, more people are buying through their smartphones. According to Big Commerce, mobile e-commerce sales already accounted for over 30% of the total online sales in 2017. However, by 2021, this percentage will grow to 54%.
Further, four out of every five millennials are using mobile devices religiously. About 95% of the Z generation owns a smartphone. Both have excellent digital consumer spending capabilities. More than half of the Y generation, for example, buy their items online, according to MarTech Advisor.
Adopting VR for digital marketing might take a while before it goes full mainstream, but it’s already happening. Making it easier is the growth of faster Internet connection, better innovations, and out-of-the-box thinking.