Mobile Trends

Mobile Virtual Reality: What’s In It For brands?

Australia’s mobile users are adopting virtual reality at an astonishing rate, sending many brands scrambling to better understand the role mobile VR might play in the digital marketing mix. Australian consumers want immersive content they can control, and according to Telsyte’s 2016 Australian Mobile VR & AR Market Study, smartphone-based mobile virtual reality is gaining in popularity with Australian consumers. Virtual reality is as immersive as content gets, providing a rich and engaging experience that brands can use to build emotional connections and brand affinity. Telsyte’s sales predictions say the demand for VR headsets will soon outweigh supply in the Australian market, which makes virtual reality a trend brands should be prepared to investigate in the coming months.

Mobile is the Gatekeeper for Virtual Reality

The mobile VR market provides a low cost of entry for consumers keep to explore virtual reality technology. This has led to a higher than expected adoption rate for what would otherwise be a prohibitively expensive medium for most consumers. Although some say VR consoles offer a superior experience, the cost and barriers to entry have slowed adoption, setting up mobile as the gateway to a VR experience for ordinary consumers. For consumers who’ve never interacted with VR content, smartphone headset are extremely easy to operate. It’s as simple as purchasing a smartphone-compatible headset, the cheapest of which are under $20 and made of cardboard. Most popular smartphones can be inserted into the headset and VR content can be downloaded to the device from the mobile app stores.  

According to Telsyte, Australians will purchase 110,000 VR headset units this year alone, growing to half a million units by 2020. For brands tapping into VR, they’re quickly learning how to serve hyper-personalised content in this environment, using pre-existing apps and touchpoints to distribute the content.  

A Win-Win for Brands and Early Adopters of Mobile VR

A significant benefit to brands in the early days of mobile VR will be the opportunity to deliver highly personalised and immersive experiences that completely bypass ad blocking activity and the distractions of multi-screening. Early adopting consumers are more than willing to disengage from reality and dive into the experiential world of VR.  For these consumers, brands can create a VIP world of virtual interaction that the rest of us – back out in the real world – can only imagine. Recently, Ebay and Myer  launched the world’s first virtual reality department store.  Customers will use VR headsets and a custom VR app to step into a virtual world that shows off products they can buy. This is where the hyper personalisation of VR really comes into its own.  Myer will not display the same content to all consumers. By staring  at the categories or departments that interest them when they first enter the ‘virtual store’ customers will generate a personalised shopping experience that is unique to their interests. For brands scrambling to meet the needs of an increasingly demanding audience the possibilities for VR to offer consumer control and engagement are limited only by the imagination.

These types of rich experiences build a connection with Australian consumers, and inevitably forge a brand affinity. VR offers a level of deep engagement and immersion that is highly impactful, meaning consumers are more likely to share their experience on social media, building the brand well beyond the comparatively small audience of early adopters of VR technology.

VR Creates Rich Data

As consumers engage with mobile virtual reality, brands can begin collecting valuable data about their preferences and interactions. Even before VR enters the mainstream, brands can use early adopter interactions with the medium as a rich source of consumer research. By developing experiences that allow customers to engage with their products in a virtual environment, brands can observe their interactions and preferences to inform decisions about future product development and marketing activity. Consumer behaviour in front of virtual product displays can be tracked and measured, building an enormously valuable picture of which products, displays or messaging cause customers to look or linger for longer. Clever brands will use this data to tailor product offerings in the real world, leveraging their early investment in mobile VR while simultaneously positioning themselves as innovators and thought leaders. Brands who step in now and create content that captures the attention of Australia’s early adopters of mobile VR will reap the rewards of a rich source of customer data and earn a highly engaged group of brand ambassadors who will do their marketing for them.   


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