Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Virtual Reality in Market Research Today

By: Gina Joseph, Communication Manager, InContext Solutions

The uses for virtual reality (VR) are growing in leaps and bounds, and market research is no exception. During their OmniShopper presentation, InContext Solutions’ Rich Scamehorn and Amy Hebard proved that VR has a place in research, today and tomorrow.

Right now, virtual 3D simulations through the computer are a tried and true way of conducting research. Respondents can stream the in-store simulations from their own computers and provide behavioral and attitudinal insights for retailers and manufacturers.


Yet virtual reality headsets, such as Google Cardboard, Gear VR and HTC Vive are beginning to make a splash in the research and marketing arenas. Only a small percentage of the population actually owns VR headsets, but companies can still start to think about ways to utilize the technology to glean in-store insights like never before. How?

Respondents might use a headset to “shop” a virtual store while at the same time being asked questions and giving their impressions. They would be able to pick up products using hand tracking, look at them in 360-degrees, and decide what they want to buy. This is similar to a typical shopalong IDI interview, but done in a completely virtual space, which means you could display items that don’t even exist yet, or products with new designs. It could also be used to create planograms or collaborate on planogram changes across offices.

Branded experiences were another way companies can measure and market new products or campaigns. Taking a VR gaming experience that involves your brand into a store environment could garner interest. Researchers can use that same VR technology to measure the impact of the VR branded campaign before it even launches. These types of campaigns could potentially create a deeper level of consumer engagement, one that will resonate beyond the experience and into sales.  
The challenge, Rich and Amy said, is to get over the skepticism and fear of VR, and just try it. The goal is to learn about VR through experience, and then create experiences that will help you engage with your shoppers.

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