Virtual Reality is slowly making its way into the mainstream technology market, but with the unfathomable amount of research underway and the growing interest in VR it’s only a matter of time before it completely takes over. Virtual Reality takes 3D to the next level, putting users into a fully immersive world that mimics real life and allows them to move around and manipulate objects. The possibilities are almost impossible to fully summarize, but brands in all industries are already dipping their toes into the waters of VR.
McDonald’s, a brand not commonly associated with technology, has gotten involved in two unique ways. They started out by introducing a Happy Meal Box in Sweden that can be folded into Virtual Reality glasses called “Happy Goggles” that customers can use with their smart phones. They furthered their involvement by creating a VR experience for the SXSW conference in Austin that allowed attendees to climb inside a Happy Meal and walk around or paint on the walls. McDonald’s is capitalizing on the fact that VR isn’t just for tech and gaming companies; in fact, the functionality can be extended to every day situations like the workplace. General Mills is using Virtual Reality to give potential employees an inside look into their office environment, giving them a taste of the culture and allow them to visualize themselves working there. VR can also be used as a teaching tool, either in training new employees or in educational settings. With more finesse, there is potential for medical students to practice procedures without the risk of harming a real patient.
For brands who don’t have an obvious way to utilize this technology, it’s worthwhile to consider offering consumers a “try before you buy experience”. This could include something like letting potential customers check out hotel rooms before deciding to stay there, or trying out new hairstyles without scissor action. While Virtual Reality has a place in many areas of our lives, it does have strong roots in gaming with 50% of Millennials stating their interest in purchasing their own headset for this purpose. Oculus Rift is the most well known headset available for consumers, currently retailing for $599 – still out of the price range for most of the population. With time, Virtual Reality goggles will follow in the footsteps of mobile phones and laptops and become more readily available and affordable, potentially having a place in every home one day. Although Millennials are still more interested in live engagement and see VR as an interesting add on to their experiences, there is the potential for Generation Z to become fully immersed in an alternate reality. The question remains how growing up with Virtual Reality will change how future generations see the world and how brands will have to keep pace in a world where anything and everything can be dreamed up in a virtual universe.