Virtual Reality: Virtually a Fad or Virtually an Imminent Reality?Kolumne von Adele Gritten
Back in March, I wrote about the inexorable intertwining of behavioural economics and market research, including how Virtual Reality is increasingly used as a tool for market research.
Now that VR is set to become widely available to consumers with imminent launches from Oculus Rift and Samsung amongst others, and with many brands already using VR to enhance brand interaction experiences with their customers, now really is the time for our industry to listen up and embrace VR as the latest addition to the researcher’s toolkit.
Although Virtual reality is at the nascent stage of being commercialized, it’s much like the internet was in the mid-90s.
- Virtual reality has been around 40-50 years.
- Computing speed continues to increase.
- Hardware costs continue to decrease.
- The equipment is now portable.
At Lieberman Research Worldwide, we’ve teamed up with world renowned academics to co-found AppliedVR®, a software solutions company with a mission of creating positive change to solve big societal problems.
In particular, Virtual reality is particularly good at understanding the non-conscious and emotions in consumer decision-making. It also allows simulation of human experiences in ways not possible or pragmatic in traditional marketing research.
We have already been actively engaging in VR studies for a range of clients on the following topics:
Bricks & Mortar Design: Bringing research participants into an environment where you can easily switch out key elements (e.g., décor, queue design, office layout, and interior/exterior architecture).
Design Optimization and Communication: Building virtual offices and changing pricing, layout, in-office signage, POP cues, and so on, in a more authentic decision-making environment, stimulating non-conscious and emotional cues.
New Product Testing: Especially useful for newer products or high-risk goods; test products that are otherwise expensive to mock up need real-world consumer experiences to understand, or require context (e.g., expensive new technology, disruptive products, innovative elements).
Customer Service Studies: Test consumer experience/satisfaction by testing a variety of customer service models, environments and transactions in a realistic and interactive setting, using avatars. Our inaugural study for Financial Services company H&R Block intrigued the media: An example: http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000384968
Pricing Studies: Testing pricing in a more real-to-life setting to incorporate less rational elements of purchase decision making, or to test prices for newer/disruptive products that require consumer experience to gauge interest.
Brand Studies: Providing better measures of brand strength and brand associations, particularly where the non-conscious or emotions come into play.
I am a genuine advocate that VR will touch and shape all of our lives in some shape or form sooner rather than later. When the VR Tech kit becomes readily available to the public early next year, we’ll start seeing a tsunami of applications and probably even currently unimagined uses. Moreover, the acceptance and ubiquity of VR will render it as mainstream in the next 10 years as the Smartphone has become over the last decade.
VR tracking systems can capture people’s physical movements in space and time (proxemics) and can be used to understand emotions and predict behaviours. VR can also adeptly capture visual gaze within a three dimensional space, facilitating recall, recognition, and attention analyses.
VR can also be used much more widely as a marketing tool to actually help change consumer behavior. Whether it’s educating the public to take more exercise, stop smoking, be more environmentally conscious, be more compassionate towards others, break down social barriers, reduce poverty or build self esteem and confidence, scores of longitudinal academic studies have long-since validated the power of VR to actually change consumer behaviour.
Sceptics and naysayers beware! All of the above has profound implications for our industry in terms of data capture, collection, analysis and crucially, for how we might understand the 21st Century Consumer as we enter a new post-digital insight paradigm.
Further releases on marktforschung.de: