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What is the potential for virtual reality in your industry?

No longer just a just a pipe dream conjured by sci-fi writers, virtual reality is quickly gaining in popularity, with global search interest on Google growing nearly 4X in the last year.

The advent of Google Cardboard made virtual reality accessible to the masses, enabling everyone with a smartphone to have a virtual reality experience. This technology has the potential to change the way marketers communicate with their audiences and the way that audiences engage with brands.

So how can the following industries capitalise on virtual reality technology?

Charities, causes and not-for-profits

The ability of VR to put the viewer in the centre of the story is what makes it so impactful. When applied to the social impact space, this means that VR is a powerful tool to create empathy.

Seeing images of famine, drought and war on TV and reading the stories of refugees certainly has an impact, but can you imagine putting on a headset and being transported to Somalia as you run for your life under a shower of bullets?

Creating a sense of empathy and understanding is key for charities and causes seeking funding and donations. The impact on the political sphere would be immense; how many people would think differently about Australia’s asylum seeker policy if they were able to put themselves in the shoes of people forced to flee their homeland?

The New York times recently explored this idea in their 360 VR video titled “The Displaced.” This video explores the stories of three children who have been driven from their home by war.

Fashion

One of the biggest barriers to online shopping (particular high-ticket items) is the intangibility of the online experience. VR has the ability to reduce this risk by giving shoppers a better feel for the product. According to a study from Ericsson ConsumerLab, shopping was the top reason worldwide smartphone users were interested in VR, with “seeing items in real size and form when shopping online” cited by 64% of respondents. VR is the missing link for retailers who want to synchronise their in-store and online strategy.

On a larger scale, VR is being used to give viewers a front row seat to the latest runway shows, including Jason Wu, Hugo Boss and Dior.

Travel

Can you picture yourself lounging in the Maldives while the Sydney Storms rage outside, or bungee jumping in New Zealand while you sit at an office desk? VR has the power to revolutionise the travel industry by creating immersive experiences that enable deeper engagement.

With VR technology, travel writers will no longer have to think of three different ways to describe the “azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef” because their readers will be able to see it for themselves. Travel blogs will become interactive, immersive experiences. Marketers should consider creating “choose your own adventure” experiences that put the power of storytelling back into the hands of the consumer.

The data and insights gained from these consumer adventures would be imperative in informing both a sales and content strategy. Tapping into the minds of consumers opens up a whole new way to conduct market research, meaning VR signals a significant shift in the way marketers interact with their audiences.

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