Brands are always looking for new ways to engage their audience and incorporate innovative technology into their events. This year, it’s expected that virtual reality will be one of the biggest trends at experiential marketing events. How can you capitalize on this new trend and use it at your next event? Here are some ideas:

Event Access

Brands often host exclusive events that many of their fans only dream of being able to attend such as fashion shows or product launches. You can’t give everyone a VIP pass to attend your next big event, but you can help them feel like they’re right there with you using virtual reality.

TopShop held a contest and picked five winners to visit their flagship store on Oxford Street in the United Kingdom. These winners were invited to sit in the front windows with virtual reality headsets that transported them directly to the front row of the brand’s 2014 Autumn/Winter runway collection. Fashion shows are some of the most exclusive events, but with this unique use of virtual reality, TopShop gave some of their biggest fans a VIP ticket.

In the days following, TopShop made the virtual reality experience available to anyone who walked into the store. Customers were able to slip on a headset and experience the fashion show just as A-list celebrities and fashion editors did. Customers undoubtedly left TopShop with a memorable experience that all brands should learn from when planning their next event.

Product Testing

Retailers have always known that consumers prefer trying products before buying them, which is why food and beverage samples are handed out to customers in grocery stores across the world. However, it hasn’t always been so easy for brands outside of the food and beverage industries to figure out how customers could sample a product prior to buying it. Virtual reality has made this much easier for a wide variety of products, so why not let your customers test your product using this technology at your next event?

In 2014, Volvo used Google Cardboard, which converts Android devices into virtual reality headsets, to let customers virtually get behind the wheel of their new XC90 SUV. Volvo created multiple environments for people to test drive through so they could see how it felt at various times of the day in different terrains. Using the headset, you could get a full 360-degree view of what the vehicle looked like from the driver’s seat. Virtually driving a vehicle is a much more memorable experience than actually getting behind the wheel, so this idea was definitely a win for the brand.

This idea can even be used with clothing items. For example, if you’re selling t-shirts at your experiential marketing event, but don’t have enough space to set up fitting rooms, allow customers to virtually try on the shirts using a headset. Just the idea of getting to use this new technology may be enough to drive more customers to “try on” and buy your merchandise.

Behind the Scenes

Starting this year, it is estimated that Millennials will spend over $200 billion annually, which makes this generation incredibly valuable to marketers. One thing Millennials want from brands is authenticity, and virtual reality is the perfect way to give them exactly what they’re looking for.

At your next event, take attendees behind the scenes so they learn more about your company’s mission and values. Send them on a virtual tour of your offices or manufacturing plant so they see that you have nothing to hide.

One brand that was innovative enough to do this was Patron, which created a virtual reality experience they called “The Art of Patron.” This two-minute virtual experience takes you through the entire process of creating Patron. It begins right in the center of the breathtaking agave fields, and then shows you how agave is transformed into the product we see on store shelves. Although this experience was originally created for the Oculus Rift, a type of virtual reality headset, Patron has now made it compatible with smartphones, laptops, and desktop computers.

Not only is Patron’s foray into virtual reality visually beautiful, but it’s also a genius marketing tool. More and more consumers are becoming concerned with how things are made—especially in the food and beverage industry—so by pulling back the curtain with virtual reality, your brand can will appear honest and transparent.

Bring Products Home

Some products don’t necessarily need to be tested. For example, everyone knows what an oven or dishwasher does, so a virtual reality experience involving these products wouldn’t be that exciting. But, that doesn’t mean these brands can’t take advantage of the virtual reality trend.

If you’ve ever renovated a home, you know how tough it can be to make decisions in a furniture, cabinet, or flooring showroom. There are thousands of different colors, fabrics, sheens, and stains to choose from, so it can be challenging to visualize how all of your choices will come together in your home. But, not anymore. Lowe’s decided to do something about it by using virtual reality to help customers visualize how different products would look in their home. Customers were able to create a simple layout of their home, and then select products they wanted to visualize. Customers were then transported to a virtual replica of their homes with the new products using a virtual reality headset. Showing customers how a product fits into their lifestyle is a great sales tactic, and one that can enhance your next event.

Are you looking for new ways to incorporate virtual reality into your next event? Contact our team of experiential marketing event experts for fresh and exciting ideas that will help you stand out from your competitors. Call us today to schedule a free consultation regarding your event!

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