Friday, June 16, 2017

When Virtual is Better than Reality

In the tech world, VR is one of the most buzzed about topics, up there with Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things. And for good reason. It has quickly become a mainstay in many industries, including health, automotive and real estate, and people are starting to experiment with how it can be used in other industries as well. VR headsets are becoming less expensive, people are gaining more access to high-powered computers, and the media is no longer questioning whether it’s here to stay—they’re now speculating where it will show up next.

But what does all this have to do with the very specific, niche world of market research and shopper insights? A lot, actually. In the CPG and retail space, VR has been helping retailers and manufacturers develop, evaluate and share new in-store concepts without the cost of expensive mock centers and the risk of launching a concept that doesn’t resonate with shoppers. When it comes to market research, virtual simulations create a way for real shoppers to “shop” new concepts from their own homes, giving researchers both behavioral and attitudinal insights.

Here are three ways VR is playing a big part in revolutionizing market research:

Speed to Market

We all know that in the world of CPG and retail, you have to move fast to stay ahead. There’s no lack of competition in the space, so cloud-based VR makes it possible to get real shopper insights in weeks rather than months. Real shoppers can move through a virtual store as they normally would, providing deeper insights into what catches their eye, what products they choose, and why. This can all be done from their own computers so samples can be based anywhere, and results are almost immediate.

Historic data is a thing of the past

Because VR allows us to work faster, it also means there’s no longer a need to rely on historic data; real-time metrics can be mined quickly, and accurately. Similarly, purchase intent becomes moot, because instead of surveys that ask a shopper what they might buy given certain circumstances, VR allows researchers to put the shopper within those same circumstances and see what they actually do.

It saves on the bottom line

In general, we look to new technologies to help us work more efficiently and accurately, ultimately saving us money in the long (or short) run. VR is no exception to that rule. As in the other industries mentioned earlier, virtual helps eliminate the risk that is always present in the real world. Take medicine: Surgeons can learn and practice their procedures in virtual without risking patient safety. 

The risk here is super high as it involves human well-being. In market research, the risk involves spending a whole lot of money on a concept that doesn’t resonate with shoppers the way it was predicted to. That risk is eliminated with virtual shopper insights—researchers will know how different concepts will perform before going to market—or even creating a physical world prototype.

VR has disrupted the world of shopper insights—in the best way possible. Learn more about VR retail solutions next week at Omnishopper International during the sessions “Discover Deeper Shopper Insights with Virtual Reality” with InContext Solutions’ Chief Research Officer Rich Scamehorn. 

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