We are living in the era of the experience economy. Have you heard about it? It means that customers want memories and engagements more than services.
Though this term from the sphere of business philosophy might sound overhyped for many, yet even brief analysis of the most successful brands proves that experience is the king today. Look around: the majority of your potential clients are online now, searching for new ways to interact with each other to entertain themselves or to manage their mundane tasks better. They want satisfaction from any single click and every interaction, and they want it immediately. That is why, speaking Harvard Business Review’s language, most businesses “use services as the stage, and goods as props, to engage individual customers in a way that creates a memorable event.”
Apple, Nike, Hilton, Ikea – they all sell memorable and even transformational experiences apart from goods. They prove customers that they “can do it” or that they are “able to think different”
No wonder the majority of big brands sooner or later turn to VR for brand promotion, marketing, and sales. Why so? First and foremost, VR marketing statistics is very promising: people actually click on 360 videos more often, they watch them longer, and what’s even more mind-blowing, they experience full emotional absorption and immersion simultaneously.
For instance, 13% of customers who experience VR tour, book this tour in reality.
The results of Tom Cook campaign ( the description of the campaign is below) were even more impressive. The travel company used VR to promote some of its destinations and reaped the increase in 190% revenue, according to Bloomberg. Amnesty International used VR for fundraising with 16% increase of direct donations from VR viewers.
These virtual reality examples inspire and encourage. They make marketers, CEOs, sales managers not only think outside the box but think outside the space where this box was placed.
1.WALMART-FOR A VIRTUAL REALITY TRAINING
#1 Walmart is the biggest American retailer which earns $1,8 million an hour and employs $2, 2 million people. No wonder the company pays so much attention to the effective almost NASA-like staff training. VR training is on the list of the tools of the company because Walmart is mad about innovations. That’s why the retailer created one of the most effective virtual reality platforms for education and training in the retail industry. Transforming random people with no skills and motivation into the team of superheroes who can solve any problem in the critical situation of Black Friday – that’s the goal of the company!
How effective is to train people with the help of VR? Walmart’s experts who have worked the way through queues, dissatisfied customers, and spoiled goods, say that with the help of VR it’s possible to provide every future Walmart employee with one-on-one experience with a customer which is priceless.
2.NEW YORK TIMES for STORY LIVING
In the age when story living has substituted storytelling, printed media are also searching for the new means of expression. Virtual reality can present magazines and papers with some important features, such as the sense of place, the sense of closure, and what’s most valuable- empathy.
The mission of the New York Times is to integrate technologies into the operations especially for those stories in which the environment has crucial meaning for the understanding of the whole story.
Thus, several years ago the paper created the application to demonstrate the living conditions of the displaced people all over the world. This virtual reality application gave millions of people this unique chance of experiencing the life of others – those who found themselves in the conditions of a refugee camp. That is how the New York Times destroyed the limits of human perception of time and space. During the last 2 years, the paper has created more than 20 virtual reality movies showing different parts of our world. And they are getting more and more popular.
3.BOURSIN – FOR ENHANCING SENSORY EXPERIENCE
Tutoring is one of the emergent trends of 2018 in marketing. People need gentle emotional navigation in everything: they love when someone with more expertise teaches them about good food and decent clothes. Not in a moralizing way, of course.
Boursin, one of the most famous cheese producers in the world, created a VR tour called sensorium – to teach cheese fans about the products that compose its taste. Well, it’s always interesting to learn “how it’s made” especially when it concerns your favorite cheese. This 3D tour is actually a guided tour inside the fridge for the appetite stimulation.
The effect of this VR marketing strategy is easy to grasp: first, the trust to the brand grows immensely. Second, it makes this marketing campaign a bit more experiential: customers get engaged in the process of cheese creation indirectly and start loving cheese even more!
Visual stimulation is the strongest and the most effective when it concerns advertising, especially when it is combined with the full immersion of VR. It looks like that Boursin is one of the best VR advertising examples so far. Who knows, maybe VR marketing will be as popular in the future as TV ads today?
4.LOWE’S – FOR GENTLE TUTORING for DIY
Great companies help customers solve their problems. They actually see clients’ pain points as opportunities. Like Lowe’s, one of the biggest American retail home improvements and appliance stores, which decided to teach clients new skills using VR. Lowe’s opened a holoroom inside the store equipped with HTC Vive where customers could train to paint a fence for example. Because most of Lowe’s customers are DIY fans!
Actually, according to the Wired, YouTube do-it-yourself videos are first in the list of media to be substituted because of AR and VR. According to LOWE’s research, the customers who went through a virtual reality Holoroom had 36% better recall compared to those who watched YouTube videos because their mechanical memory was activated.
5.VOLVO – EXPERIENTIAL MARKETING IN ACTION
All those who don’t want to visit car dealerships can finally breathe out. Volvo has launched an amazing VR marketing campaign for its V40 model for them. To test-drive a new model Volvo lovers need two things only: a Google Cardboard and a smartphone. It’s the advanced level of experiential marketing: giving each and every customer a fully immersive illusion of driving.
But Volvo has embraced virtual reality even further and experimenting with it fully. Today using VR apps Volvo shows people how safety systems really work. In my humble opinion, it’s one of the best VR campaigns in the automotive industry.
6.MEDICOVER- FOR GUIDING CUSTOMERS WHERE THEY ARE NOT ALLOWED TO BE
One of the biggest European medical holdings decided to show its best and the most innovative lab using a virtual reality tour. How else is it possible to welcome hundreds or even thousands of visitors inside the sterile room? This virtual reality tour is supposed to show the lab from inside with all this ultra-modern equipment and an incredible level of cleanness. Of course, it is impossible to let everyone who wants to see the lab from inside in because it’s a sterile environment after all.
The solution was non-trivial but very timely: 3D tour which gives customers, doctors, and partners to see tall they are not able to see in real life.
7.INCHEON AIRPORT – FOR CONNECTING REAL and VIRTUAL
This is one of the most stunning VR campaigns because it allows combining real and virtual experiences. Incheon – the airport, which positions itself as a multi-platform hub, used VR to increase brand awareness about South Korea and show Korean culture from the inside.
The VR marketing campaign conducted during three days transferred passengers to various places in South Korea to show them food preparation rituals, taekwondo, fashion trends in the country, and a parade celebrating the King and Queen.
When later visitors were asked to take off the headset they saw a live representative from the virtual world in front of them. Yes, there was a cook with some food.
8.NIKE – FOR OUT-BODY EXPERIENCE
Nike is the company that doesn’t only grasp trends, it creates trends. AS VR is gaining popularity immensely, Nike decided to shoot a whole VR advertisement for the promotion of the new Hypervenom Phantom II model. How does it feel to play in the Premier League and to score the goal that gains victory for your team?
With this VR and anyone can feel it.
The popularity of this VR marketing campaign proved that adults want to experiment all the time with their unfulfilled desires. They wanted to be NASA astronauts or footballers and didn’t make it. Why not give clients a piece of their dream, a magic experience with the help of VR?
9.AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL- FOR EVOKING EMPATHY
Amnesty International started a VR f street fundraising with one mission: help the world see what is going on in Aleppo, Syria. 360 video transported people from London streets directly to the devastated areas in Aleppo. The response was immediate: some people were crying, others expressed serious shock. The organization reached their goal: the number of people who signed in for fundraising increased by 16%.
Why did it work? The participants who took part in the campaign admit that the sharp contrast between the London street and the virtual environment was one of the reasons. Vision as the primary source of information on the world stimulated an immediate emotional response. No wonder some VR enthusiast say that the future of the cinema is virtual because VR is an “empathy machine”
10.THOMAS COOK FOR BOOSTING SALES.
UK-based travel operator realized that the closer they can transport their potential customers to the potential destinations, the higher the chances for selling these tours.
Try-before-buy VR option embeds trust in customers and answers their questions in the most persuasive way. That is why Tom Cook created an original marketing campaign which allowed tourists in 10 European citIES preview their hotels. Customers could sit calmly on the balcony of the Santorini hotel or see Manhattan from the bird’s eye view.
Most Thomas Cook’s customers were impressed with the emotions evoked with the help of 3D tours and that is why the revenue of the company increased by 190%. Thomas Cook is planning to send VR catalogs with travel destinations soon.
There is one common thing among all these brands using VR efficiently: they grasped the technology to give customers a richer and more emotional experience. Yet with one goal in their mind, they managed to reach different results. Nike made their customers’ dream come true. Amnesty International stimulated a real empathic response in VR viewers. Medicover chose VR with one practical purpose: welcoming thousands of customers to the lab they are not allowed to visit.
It seems that VR has one exciting bonus: it gives brands more than they expected. Besides, for marketers and brand managers VR is a lab where all the experiments are possible. Virtual test drives, free falls from skyscrapers, virtual tours to forbidden places: the best VR campaigns are the most daring VR campaigns.