Virtual Reality and the Future of Experiential Marketing

Virtual reality (VR) is a hot buzz word in tech circles that has been making its way into marketing for the last few years. 

What was once an expensive, clunky and finicky software unlikely to be functional in a fast-paced experiential marketing environment is now more accessible, with worked-out kinks, and technology adapted to be largely intuitive. 

Many big brands are now using VR technology as part of their immersive marketing strategies. Everything from virtual shopping experiences to exploring facilities for trade logistics can be simulated using virtual reality and augmented reality technology. 

In other words, if you’ve got the creativity and the vision, the opportunities are vast.

Here are three experiential marketing opportunities where virtual reality can boost audience engagement.

1. Trade Shows 

Trade shows are a great way to reach your target audience. The people coming to industry-specific trade shows are interested in what you are offering. No need to sift through uninterested passersby, the opportunity is there. 

The downside is you are in direct competition with other providers and brands, sometimes thousands of them, in the same room. 

This is where VR technology can give you a leg up on the competition. 

Adding a VR element to your trade show activation will draw in audiences looking for an experience. Other booths will have promo videos looped on a screen, and other marketing materials. 

Enhancing the experience people have with your brand allows for key messaging to really land in a trade show setting where event-goers are oversaturated with sales pitches. 

You might be thinking, “we aren’t a tech brand, what do we have to gain from VR?” 

Don’t make the mistake of thinking inside the box. 

Virtual reality demos are a great way to do product demos for video games, cars, and innovative technologies (wink wink Elon Musk). They’re also great for brand exposure and giving an audience an experience. 

McDonald’s used a VR demo at the 2016 SXSW festival in Austin to get creative with the festival-goers. Participants “stepped” into a white happy meal box with a paintbrush palette to create a fun and unique design. 

On top of the cool virtual painting experience, users could share their creations on social media, have them printed, or sent via email/text message. 

(Photo by Stephan Sorkin on Unsplash, Public Domain)

2. Events & Product Launches

Event marketing and VR tools are a perfect pairing.

Depending on the type of event you are hosting, interactive and fun larger-than-life activities can compliment the theme or atmosphere.

Adding a VR element to the event can spice things up and enhance the entire experience, whether it’s a fundraising gala or a music festival.

In addition to having a VR or augmented reality element complimenting an event or launch, it’s not uncommon to see entire events planned around VR experiences.

Popular UK cheese brand Boursin launched a virtual reality pop-up in several malls, where users put on a headset and stepped into a stocked fridge, full of Boursin treats! The experience included blowing wind to mimic changes in fridge temperature for the full effect.

While VR tools can be pricey, an alternative might be augmented reality features (anyone remember Pokemon Go?), which require less immersive environments but still create pretty cool effects.

(Photo by Lucrezia Carnelos on Unsplash, Public Domain)

3. Social Media Marketing

Social media can play a huge role in experiential marketing campaigns.

Engaging audiences both online and in-person increases exposure. While there are a number of ways to activate a social media presence for a marketing campaign, such as social media contesting, sometimes there’s nothing like a good ol’ status update.

A photo of you overlooking Mt. Everest.

Or driving the newest hybrid aerospace invention.

Certain VR activations that require users to design something, or take a photo in an exotic setting can be easily shared and screenshotted. It’s an easy way to show the world what your brand can offer and why it’s great.

The other added benefit of VR tools is the opportunity for immersive storytelling.

While on-site VR activations draw major crowds, there are ways to tell the story of a product through VR that can later be shared on social media.

Giving audiences a first-person view of a compelling story, like tequila brand Patron did, leaves a lasting impression.

(Photo by Daniel Frank on Unsplash, Public Domain)

Let’s bust a myth real quick. 

Myth: Virtual reality is expensive and hard to operate, especially for first-time users.

Fact: There are various VR headsets available for branding and experiential marketing campaigns that fit every type of budget. Depending on your idea, marketing needs, or time crunch, VR demos and tools can be incorporated into activations relatively smoothly. 

Training brand ambassadors and promo reps to use VR equipment can be simple and easy – learning by doing is the best way to go about it and Fervent Events sets up training days and materials for activations without hassle. 

Fervent Events also has a roster of 900+ brand ambassadors and event staff, many of whom have experience with tech and emerging technologies. Learn more here about our staffing services. 

Until next time! 

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