Guest Blog: Keith White: The effects of VR within marketing

Keith White, marketing director at Dobell & Fashion blogger of TheWhiteGent, talks about the rising force of virtual reality and its place within the marketing industry

The closest a customer can get to a product, the higher the engagement, and the higher the conversion rate. It’s the reason that every supermarket has the colourful, touchy-feely fruit and vegetables at the front of store. With ecommerce, it’s harder to provide that sort of experience, so every which way that you can achieve as close to the real thing, marketeers should be taking advantage of. Travel sites and wedding venues, and the likes already offer full written, almost poetic descriptions of their locations and venues, with full bullet points added in, for a descriptive instruction on what the product is.

This is then backed up by images of the product, from various angles and in it’s best light. Recently we’ve seen the introduction of greater use of imagery coming in the form of customers social videos and pictures from platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, presented in shoppable Instagram widgets such as Olapic . We’ve even started to see a flood of sites providing 360 degree views as images and video; the next step is Virtual Reality, a close yet improved option on the 360 videos.

This is, for the time being, the closest a customer can get to a product without physically being there, in person to experience, touch, feel, but they can see, hear and become emotionally attached, which is usually where the sale conversion is influenced.

We’ve already seen car manufacturers allow test drives via VR (see Volvo), which could see the eventual end of cars actually being driven before purchased; seems foreign concept right now, but consumers are happily removing the touchy feely part from their buying habits in other areas (see the supermarket example above). People are happy enough buying a house over the internet, and clothes, and even attending music concerts; perhaps VR could really benefit these industries, right now.

I believe VR is the missing link to engagement in ecommerce at this stage, and will provide a much-welcomed bridge, between customers and the physical product. Costs to produce videos are high at present, but let’s face it, so are the costs of well-produced HD videos, but VR adds a new dimension, literally, to the buying process, allowing customers the control of where to look, and what they feel is important to focus on.

Buying habits are affected by our senses, and VR really taps into the visual buy-in. The only senses currently missing from the whole experience are taste and scent, and I’m pretty sure solutions for these are just around the corner.

 

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Stuart O'Brien

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