If you've dismissed Virtual Reality as too expensive, a passing fad or just plain ridiculous, think again.
In 2014, Gartner predicted that VR was five years away from becoming a mainstream technology but it’s already here, adopted by business and consumers alike for entertainment, information and marketing.
Mattel was the first major toy brand to launch a VR product last year with View Master and we’re waiting for version 2.0 later this year.
I’ve just come back from the Wearable Technology Show and almost half of all companies there were promoting new hardware or software plug-ins that turn even the humblest pair of specs into an immersive VR tool.
In the past year alone, we’ve seen Google Cardboard drop the cost of headsets to just a few pounds. Access is easy and cheap and this is why VR is fast becoming an exciting marketing tool.
The big brands have already stepped in and are investing heavily in 360-degree films for new product launches.
Take Volvo’s XC90 VR test drive ‘Volvo Reality’, a 360 degree experience of their top of the range SUV, optimised for dedicated VR devices like Google Cardboard.
The brand reported 238 million media impressions. That’s a lot of immersive experiences for a new car launch.
A test drive may be far away from the latest toy release, but when it comes to VR, the rules are the same.
For effective VR, you need a strong creative concept and a clear message, a great story combined with a unique experience that the viewer is in control of; plus an audience that’s up for new technology of course.
The toy industry has all of those things in quantity.
Kids will soon have a headset and their demand for exploring the world of new toys will rise. It’s an outstanding opportunity for toy industry marketeers.
In my world of PR, VR is also being used effectively with journalists and trade audiences. With VR we can easily offer media and partners an experience that is fun, exciting and very close to reality, without a product having to leave the warehouse.
How about taking a peek behind the scenes, looking at the production process for a product or the testing of it? Or how about virtual events?
Recently TopShop used Oculus Rift to let their customers experience a fashion show at their Oxford Street store. Everyone could experience the thrill of being seated at the front row even if they couldn’t be there.
These are just a few examples of how VR is being integrated into marketing, but it’s just the start.
With new devices and app development, the smart toy marketeer should act now.
Rebecca Oatley is managing director at Cherish PR. For more on Cherish PR, click here.