I won’t lecture you on the importance of incorporating virtual reality (VR) into your marketing strategy.
What I will do, however, is share a few fun facts about VR and show you nine examples of this technology used for marketing a product or a brand.
Consumer and enterprise VR market revenue is expected to reach $6.71 billion by the end of 2022, and $12.9 billion by 2024.
Augmented reality, virtual reality, and mixed reality market size worldwide is expected to jump by more than 220 billion dollars between 2021 and 2028.
By the end of 2022, it is estimated that virtual reality hardware and software sales will generate more than $6.4 billion dollars in revenue.
By the end of 2020, the number of VR headsets sold is predicted to reach 82 million — a 1,507% increase from 2017 predicted totals.
What Is VR?
VR, short for virtual reality, is software that immerses users in a three-dimensional, virtual interactive environment — usually by headset with special lenses — to simulate a real-life experience. Many VR experiences take place in 360 degrees.
While movies, for example, allow audiences to experience the film as if they are a character in the scene, businesses use VR to demonstrate and promote their products to potential customers. In fact, many industries have found a use of VR to transport people to places they might otherwise have to travel to or simply imagine.
Before we dive into some examples of businesses that have used VR for marketing, it’s worth noting that virtual reality has a few key differences from another term you might’ve heard before in the same sphere: augmented reality. The video below runs through the key differences.
Seeking inspiration for your own VR marketing campaign? Look no further. Below are nine of our favorite VR marketing campaigns and how they served the company’s marketing strategy.
1. Gucci Town
High-end fashion house Gucci recently launched Gucci Town, a virtual world within the Roblox metaverse. Players can explore the town, learn about the house’s history, and connect with other people in the game.
The interactive elements of Gucci Town are the mini-games, the browsable art exhibitions, and the Gucci store where people can purchase clothes for their Roblox avatars. When users wear the clothing they’ve purchased, they can spark conversations with others that are curious about the unique items and, as a result, are inspired to visit and discover what the town has to offer.
2. Sephora Try-on Kiosk
Beauty retailer Sephora has kiosks where visitors can virtually test makeup products on their face to ensure they’re satisfied with how it looks before making a purchase. These kiosks are a high-value marketing tool, providing a unique hybrid experience to help customers get the most out of their in-store visit.
While Sephora does allow physical testing of its products, not everyone might want to do so, so the kiosks are an additional option. It’s also beneficial for customer satisfaction, as people can see exactly what the products look like ahead of time to ensure they spend money on one that works best for them and their needs.
3. Wendy’s and VMLY&R: Keeping Fortnite Fresh
Wendy’s created an engaging VR marketing experience within Fortnite’s virtual world, leveraging native gameplay related to its business: beef. Fortnite players would transport beef to freezers at nearby restaurants and earn coins when they were successful.
To make it a more brand-relevant experience, Wendy’s tasked its marketing agency, VMLY&R, to create an avatar that resembled its mascot, Wendy. The firm then streamed on Twitch, where viewers could watch the new Wendy’s avatar break into restaurants and destroy freezers:
During the stream, mentions of Wendy’s on social media went up by 119%, and it was viewed for a total of 1.52 million minutes by a quarter of a million viewers. Viewers also began smashing freezers within their games, tweeting about the stream, and commenting in the feed’s comment thread.
Like a commercial or native ad, the campaign’s goal was to remind audiences that Wendy’s makes an effort to serve the freshest beef to its customers, which is why it was so relevant that users received coins the faster they were able to transport beef to the freezers.
4. A Tribal Past: Bear River, a Nation: What Can Eeling Teach Us?
In partnership with Oculus, Jessica Cantrell created a 360° film project where tribal members shared their stories and reconnected young people with their community’s past.
It was a form of community storytelling that leveraged an emerging VR tool to market the story and to help members of a historically marginalized community learn more about their culture.
5. Lowe’s: Holoroom How-To
Anyone who’s gone through the angst of being a first-time buyer knows the unfathomable power of paperwork and finances to undermine the fun of designing or decorating a new home.
That’s why Lowe’s decided to step in and help out homeowners — or recreational DIY enthusiasts — with a virtual skills-training clinic that uses HTC Vive headsets to guide participants through a visual, educational experience on the how-to of home improvement.
Now, customers can embark on their do-it-yourself renovation dreams without needing to pay for a professional and with the education, they need to succeed on their own.
6. Boursin: The Sensorium
Cheese brand Boursin created a VR experience to take users on a multi-sensory journey through a refrigerator to shed light on its products’ flavor profiles, food pairings, and recipe ideas.
The goal? To raise awareness among U.K. consumers of Boursin’s distinct taste and product selection.
While the VR installment was part of a live experiential marketing campaign, the rest of us can get a taste — pun intended — of the virtual experience via this YouTube video.
7. Adidas: Delicatessen
Adidas partnered with Somewhere Else, an emerging tech marketing agency, to follow the mountain-climbing journey of two extreme athletes sponsored by TERREX (a division of Adidas).
And what good is mountain climbing to an audience if you can’t give them a 360-degree view of the journey?
Viewers could follow the climbers, Ben Rueck and Delaney Miller, literally rock for rock and climb along with them. You heard that right — using a VR headset and holding two sensory remote controls in each hand, viewers could scale the mountain of Delicatessen right alongside Rueck and Miller.
According to Somewhere Else, this VR campaign served to “find an unforgettable way to market TERREX, [Adidas’s] line of outdoor apparel & accessories.” What the company also did, however, was introduce viewers to an activity they might have never tried otherwise and instill an interest in the experience.
Check out the campaign’s trailer below.
8. Toms: Virtual Giving Trip
Toms, a popular shoe company, is well known for donating one pair of shoes to a child in need every time a customer buys a pair. This charitable developer found a new way to inspire its customers to give — wearing a VR headset.
Blake Mycoskie, the founder and Chief Shoe Giver of Toms, narrates Tom’s Virtual Giving Trip with one of his colleagues.
As they describe the story of Toms’ founding, their VR experience takes viewers on a trip through Peru, where Blake and the shoe-giving team visit a school of children who are about to receive the shoes they need for the first time.
What Toms’ VR campaign does so well is something cause-driven organizations worldwide struggle to do: Show donors exactly where their money is going. Even without a VR headset, the video below gives you an intimate experience to put Toms on your list for your next shoe purchase.
9. DP World: Caucedo Facilities Tour
DP World is a global trade company that helps businesses transport goods worldwide. As the company opens new terminals, however, they need a way to show their customers what DP World’s property has to offer.
DP World’s Caucedo facility in the Dominican Republic is just one of several DP World properties using VR to promote its large and often mysterious ships and land masses as they suddenly appear in a community.
Trade logistics is not an exciting industry for everyone, but that’s exactly why a 360-degree tour of DP World’s terminal is so valuable here. Show people just how efficient, safe, and crucial these properties are to certain businesses — without making them put on a hardhat and walk through the port itself — and you can gain massive community support.
Navigating VR in Marketing
As you read this, you might be thinking, “Why should a small-business marketer like myself be learning about high-priced VR campaigns?”
Well, although VR might be too costly for many. marketing budgets, it’s getting more and more abundant in society, As it grows, we’re seeing a handful of brands leverage it for product promotion and virtual storytelling. And, while you might not be able to create a VR-based campaign, you can gather some great takeaways related to marketing innovation, content marketing, or visual storytelling which can give you other ideas of how to better interact with your digital audience.
Want to see how other emerging technologies will impact your marketing? Check out A Practical Approach to Emerging Tech for SMBs: AI, Blockchain, Cryptocurrencies, IoT, and AR/VR.