I spy on you with my little eye; how VR will change marketing research.
I spy with my little eye and it’s green. I spy on you with my little eye and its apples. As a marketer, you want to know what people are looking at, how long and what choices they make. To test new concepts, you need, expensive eye tracking solutions and entire stores need to be mocked up. Virtual Reality (VR) makes marketing research fast, cheap and it’s easy to reach large audiences. And all you need is a smartphone and cardboard VR glasses. This will completely change the world of market research and behavioural sciences.
With VR people can look around in an environment and activate links, make choices or request information, simply by focussing on hotspots. This is one of the big advantages compared to Augmented Reality (AR), where an informative layer is placed on the real world. With VR it is not necessary to travel to a location to be there. Any place can be visited virtually, without travel and accommodation costs, without having to make the space available. All that is needed are 360° images of the surroundings.
And those images are easy to capture with compact 360°-degree cameras, such as the Ricoh Theta V of € 399 and a €20 tripod. Making a 360° video works the same and often makes the experience more engaging, but sometimes a bit restless.
Testing procedures and new concepts in VR is simple, accurate and fast
As a researcher, you want to test different variants or non-existing concepts. 360° Photos can be easily adjusted or expanded by, for example, photographing different exhibits, or Photoshopping. With a 360° video that is a bit trickier and often a professional is needed. The recording of reality, with or without figurants, accurately reflects the world. Who did not had a quick look at Google Streetview to see where you were going?
Of course, a virtual world can also be created with the computer, for example, if you want to test a new store concept. This requires a bit more work but makes it easy to change the design, lighting and choice of materials. And creating a virtual environment is still much cheaper and more flexible than building a full-size mock-up of your store, machine or product.
Another advantage of the use of VR is that the environment can be made very quickly. An existing situation can be recorded in a day by a photographer. Uploading, adding tracking zones and choices can be done easily with our universal Content Management Systems such as VRdeck.co. Publish the VR environment directly on your own website and you are ready to go. Make this VR environment available via the internet and there is a huge online target group available.
Real-time data analysis in a cardboard box
It is not only easy to create and publish a VR environment. A consumer only needs a smartphone and cardboard VR glasses to visit the area. The VR glasses work like binoculars so you have to move your head to see everything. Eye tracking and the associated expensive hardware and software is superfluous. By defining invisible zones for the visitor, choice behaviour can be investigated. Send cheap cardboard VR goggles by mail and involve a huge number of your customers in the development of new concepts.
A consumer can enter the store via a unique URL and go shopping. Because every movement is recorded and stored directly, there is real-time insight into the behaviour of the visitor. By using invisible tracking zones, you can work without prejudice. Not only quantitative data such as residence time and choices are recorded, but the route to a choice can also be tracked. So it is possible to see how people behave in the VR store and what effect design, sound, lighting and other variables have on buying behaviour.
Make sure that user data is properly protected, so that data cannot be directly linked to a person. VRdeck is built by VRmaster BV and Digimonks with the General Data Protection Regulation in mind. Basically, we keep personal data and in-VR tracking completely separate.
Stores can benefit from a virtual presentation
That VR is an attractive tool for researchers and marketers is crystal clear. But there’s more. Consumers appear to be more willing to visit the store and make purchases, when they have virtually looked in a shop. HvA researchers Anne Moes and Harry van Vliet researched a solution for America Today. Read more about this research here. Moes investigated whether an online shopper, who could also ‘walk around’ in virtual reality through the America Today store, was, therefore, more inclined to also visit the physical store.
Not only has the VR tour had a very positive influence on the experience of a store. Even 360° images, viewed on a laptop, reinforce the idea that the store has been visited. “The purchase intent of people who had seen the images with the VR glasses is increasing” says Moes
VR is not just a new holy grail for researchers. The store itself also has something to do with it, because the consumer is positively influenced. By using a universal publishing platform, (potential) customers with a tablet, laptop, smartphone or VR glasses can be reached with one and the same virtual environment.
Measuring behaviour; the golden egg of VR
Still not convinced? How is it that the two largest online behavioural marketers, Google and Facebook, invest billions in this new medium? That VR places privacy in a new perspective, is certainly food for a next blog post.