What is Virtual Reality or VR as many in the tech world refer to it as? It is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors. A long winded explanation to essentially describe experiencing something while not physically being present. How can a technology like this influence the needs of consumers in the marketplace? Whenever I buy something especially online I naturally always find myself wondering what that particular item would look like on me or in the space I plan to place it in. VR technology has bring things to life. Even more so with large durable items like furniture, televisions, and industrial machinery. You are able to visualize whether a couch is too big or too small for a particular sized room despite knowing the static dimensions. Do the colors of the furniture match with the paint on the wall? Sometimes this is difficult to determine without the item being physically present in its future space. Seminars and training sessions on how to operate industrial machinery could be conducted from afar utilizing this technology. VR gives you the satisfaction of buying something online, bringing it home, and testing it out in a matter of seconds without the hassle of completing the monetary transaction yet. Along with tangible products the tourism and hospitality industries would really benefit from the development of this technology. Imagine putting on glasses and being superimposed on a Caribbean island with a cold drink in your hands. Would be hard for you to say no huh? Or what about seeing yourself in the middle of a dance floor as you evaluate a venue space for a wedding or a surprise birthday party. And the list goes on and on.
Although virtual reality is still an immature market among the average consumer the anticipation and buzz about its possibilities are endless. As the technology penetrates mainstream markets beyond gaming, marketing plans developed around VR are not too far off. It would not surprise me if in a couple years VR equipment was bundled with the latest and greatest versions of smartphones to further enhance the experience of using these devices. I can imagine companies moving to a place where they concern themselves with positioning their products and services on virtual media. Similar to the app market like google play or iTunes I see a VR app market being created where companies use this platform as another avenue to communicate with the consumer to influence buying behaviors.
Just think now with an Amazon Prime subscription you not only receive free 2-day shipping, movies, and music but a set of virtual reality glasses that allows you to explore the Amazon marketplace and its products first hand. This could revolutionize how people shop. Will retailers now have a VR section in their brick and mortar stores? Do consumers need to even go into a store? These are all things that if I’m a marketer I am monitoring very closely.
The only other issue with virtual reality technology that could be a cause for concern is the process of individuals getting use to and putting on the VR equipment. Is it too much of an extra step as compared to the benefit. How is the comfortability of the equipment? What are the health concerns? Is there an age limit? All these questions will need to be answered and looked at further as this technology gains more awareness among the masses.
In the end virtual reality technology has a long way to go to get to a stage as I described but none the less when it explodes don’t say I didn’t warn you.