The Top Virtual Reality News for Brands

  • The Retail Innovation Lab
  • March 02, 2016

Virtual Reality for Brands

It has only been a few weeks since we last discussed Virtual Reality (VR), but boy – have things changed! It seems like not one day in the last month has passed without The Lab coming across a headline with the words "Virtual Reality" prominently displayed.  

From new players on the scene to reimagined headset designs, the information can be overwhelming, not to mention difficult to understand.  Here, we provide a summary and analysis on the VR news you should be paying attention to most:

Evidence Suggests Apple Next to Enter the VR Arena

Apple is notorious for keeping its work locked within its Cupertino walls, but recent evidence suggests that VR may be the newest venture for the tech giant. Notably, Apple created a division dedicated to augmented and virtual reality technologies. The staff has expanded to include experts in the field, hiring Doug Bowman from Virginia Tech and former HoloLens engineer, Nick Thompson. In addition, the company has purchased several startups specializing in the immersive media as well as made Mattel’s View-Master VR headset available for purchase in its stores. Finally, CEO Tim Cook hasn’t been shy in revealing how “cool” he thinks the technology is when asked in recent interviews.

The Lab's Opinion:

With iPhone sales slipping (a first!) and the Apple Watch feeling the heat from competitor Fitbit, Apple needs a new venture and possibly views VR as its golden ticket. Apple knows user experience and undoubtedly, this is an area where most VR devices struggle. It seems like there isn’t a single VR demo without a half dozen instructors explaining, “how it works”. If VR is coming to the masses, a form of entertainment to be experienced regardless of location, then Apple’s VR initiative may prove revolutionary.

There is also something to be said about Nick Thompson’s hire – could Apple be in the works of producing its own version of the Microsoft HoloLens?  (You can read more about HoloLens here).

Facebook Announces Plans to Make Virtual Reality A Social Experience

We knew it was just a matter of time before Mark Zuckerberg revealed his plans for VR. In 2014, Facebook purchased Oculus for a mere $2 billion. Since then, techies and Facebook fans alike have been eagerly waiting for the company’s intentions to be announced. At a Samsung press event in Barcelona, Spain, Zuckerberg announced the formation of a social virtual reality team dedicated to exploring how VR and social interaction come together. Ultimately, Zuckerberg believes that VR will enable Facebook users to be transported anywhere, and experience whatever their friends are witnessing.  

The Lab’s Opinion:

Facebook arguably continues to grow in numbers and in sales because it prioritizes relevancy. VR seems like a natural avenue, then, for Facebook to pursue in order to bring users, new and old, back to its site. Not to mention, Facebook introduced 360-degree video technology not too long ago, so users already have the tools necessary to record and upload their own VR content.  Bottom line: we expect VR to bring even more success to the Facebook Empire.

Carnival Partners with Samsung and AT&T to Launch Virtual Cruise Experience

In an effort to engage with younger consumers, particularly those who’ve never taken a cruise before, the Carnival Corporation is partnering with Samsung and AT&T to provide an up close and personal look at past excursions using VR technology. Consumers can walk into any participating AT&T store to try the Samsung Gear VR device and immediately be transported to a tropical beach or bustling market in Spain, as examples.

In addition to being entered into a free cruise sweepstakes, those who buy Samsung phones will receive spending credits towards their next cruise on any of Carnival’s brands.

The Lab’s Opinion:

Younger consumers, especially Millennials, are drawn to international travel; they want to be immersed in culture and learn something new. If a brand has the opportunity to create an exciting, informative travel experience using VR technology, they should jump on it! We think this is a great example of leveraging technology to appeal to a specific demographic. 

VR has generated a great deal of buzz, and the examples above show that many big brands are adopting the technology. For brands still on the fence, keep in mind that the VR experience is still very new to consumers – the “wow” factor isn’t lost! Brands have the opportunity to entertain and educate consumers like never before.  If VR technology was implented into a brand activation program through the end result would be serving up an unforgettable experience to the consumer, which would undoubtedly have positive results.

Want to learn more about VR, or how your brand can best leverage the technology? Contact Alcone to learn more.