Last week I played a game of golf. It was a beautiful sunny day. The palm trees swayed in the breeze as I teed off from the first hole, nestled between a small mountain and the ocean. Where was I? The boardroom of the Lush Digital offices! Well, occasionally it’s our boardroom — our production team continually clears it out to indulge our “work” and “research” in virtual reality (VR).
On this day, with VR Golf, I was playing 18 holes on one of the greatest golf courses the world has to offer. But there is so much more to VR than games.
In 2017, virtual reality is something you will hear more and more about, and experts think that soon it will be a big part of your everyday life. Experiencing a virtual world through a headset? It doesn’t read like much but it’s incredible how immersive it can be, and how quickly it can trick your senses when you experience it.
Imagine you want to watch Barcelona FC play Real Madrid. Soon enough, you won’t have to fly to Spain; just put on your VR headset and you’re transported to front row seats.
Imagine walking through your new apartment, choosing the kitchen benchtop and taking in the sunset from the balcony. Except the apartment isn’t even built yet. Imagine your child experiencing the wonder of other worlds as they walk on the surface of Mars. But it’s a Tuesday morning and they’re safely on the ground in their classroom. This technology has seemingly limitless applications for your entertainment, home, relationships, education, medicine — you name it. But it also has significant applications for your business.
Every example above, and hundreds of others, can be applied to your particular business, brand or product. It can be used for retail, sales, training, safety, brand building and so much more. Everything from real-life 360-degree videos to fully computer-generated 3D environments can be utilized to immerse your customers in new and exciting ways!
Why you should explore VR for your business
It can provide a new experience to engage your customers
A great example of this is TOMS Shoes. They created a 360 video, filmed in Peru where they hand out shoes to children, that’s designed to show their company mission. It allows them to engage with their wider audience via YouTube, but they also set up VR headsets in their stores. Anyone who enters their store can take a seat for a couple of minutes, put on a VR headset and be transported to the other side of the world. They can feel what it’s like being on the ground where their purchase of shoes is making a difference. This engages their customers broadly via existing channels like YouTube, but also one at a time with a new and unique experience that creates a deeper connection to their brand.
Take a look at the TOMS Shoes virtual journey to Peru. (Make sure you access this video from a Chrome, Opera, Firefox or Internet Explorer browser, and have the YouTube quality set to 1080 to get the full effect.)
It can help you enhance current strategies
Texas insurance company Liberty Mutual made ‘Safety in a Box’, a training app with 360 VR experiences of four different construction site accidents. These included being caught in a collapsing trench, touching an active electrical line, falling from a ledge and being struck by a falling object. These cardboard holders for smartphones were distributed to 4000 construction sites to promote safety. Did they have to do this in VR? No. But by taking a novel approach to their safety education and providing a more visceral, immersive experience, they were improving their offering to customers.
It’s another powerful tool in your toolbox
Virtual reality is new and exciting. But, it is not here to replace existing marketing efforts (like Netflix replacing Blockbuster video). It’s a new category (like when social media all of a sudden became important to your business, remember that?), and a new tool in your toolbox, for you to captivate your customers in innovative ways. Why not try it out?
How you can get started in VR
Start. Start small if you have to, but don’t wait
The great thing about getting started is you don’t need to spend lots of money setting up new distribution channels. You can begin now by using 360 videos and photos across your already existing media channels such as Facebook, YouTube and your website. It’s accessible to anyone with a smartphone. You can put your phone in a cardboard holder and take a look around for yourself. It’s the simplest, but still amazingly fun, starting point for bringing this experience to your customers.
Be creative, the applications are (virtually) limitless
It is a little bit of hyperbole, but once you understand the potential of VR and commit to exploring its application to your business, it can feel almost limitless! I sat down with our creative team and in 10 minutes we had dozens of out-of-the-box, new ideas for a particular client.
Haven’t experienced virtual reality before? Make an appointment to come in and try out the virtual reality at Lush HQ.
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