Article

Bartek Rozbicki
Bartek Rozbicki 31 July 2019

A 3-Step Strategy For Brands To Embed XR Within Their Business

Extended Realities (XR) is a powerful tool for brands, but most have yet to harness the technology in a meaningful way. Get this: more than half of all shoppers (53%) would be more likely to purchase a product or service if it included an XR experience. Here's what you need to know...

While the public holds a positive view of XR, just 26% of consumers have taken part in an XR experience when purchasing a product or service. This gap between consumer demand and brand activation highlights an exciting opportunity: today’s shoppers would be more likely to purchase if advertising included an XR experience, but brands either a) aren’t offering XR experiences or b) aren’t delivering XR experiences that provide value and substance. 

Every so often, humanity experiences a paradigm shift that transforms the way we behave, interact and consume.

With the advent of extended reality, the latest paradigm shift is here.

Extended reality, or XR, is an umbrella term given to all computer-generated environments that either merge the physical and virtual worlds or create an entirely immersive experience for the user. It includes three popular categories – Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR).

At SYZYGY Extended Realities (XR), we recently polled 1,000 British consumers to better understand the role of XR in the market of today and the world of tomorrow.

Consider this: 72% of shoppers believe that XR will become part of their daily routine as the smartphone is now. Younger generations are even more bullish. In fact, 81% of 16-to-34-year-olds believe that XR will play a ubiquitous role in their daily lives.

So, what does this mean for brands?

With unprecedented real-world applications, XR has the power to enhance large swathes of the business world, from medical innovation to retail shopping to competitive gaming. Here’s how you can capitalise on these shifts and position your business for success in an augmented world.

The opportunity at hand

Believe it or not, more than half of all shoppers (53%) would be likelier to purchase a product or service if it included an XR experience. However, while the public holds a positive view of XR and its role in the sales cycle, just 26% of consumers have taken part in an XR experience when purchasing a product or service.

This gap between consumer demand and brand activation highlights an exciting opportunity: today’s shoppers would be more likely to purchase if advertising included an XR experience. Yet brands either a) aren’t offering XR experiences or b) aren’t delivering XR experiences that provide quality, value and substance.

The problem isn’t consumer mindset. The problem is most brands simply aren’t using XR to solve real-world problems. Adoption is still in its infancy, which means consumers have to put up with cheap gimmicks. And that hinders positive public perception.

When businesses recognise the size of the opportunity at hand, then we’ll start to see an environment brimming with innovation, excitement and value.

For now, the market is ripe for disruption.

Step 1: Start with the problem

As with all shiny, new technology, there’s a natural human desire to implement it as quickly as possible.

Keeping up with change is pivotal, but adoption must be done in such a way that it solves existing problems in the business infrastructure. XR isn’t a hammer that can hit every nail. On the contrary, brands must first identify the problem and then decide whether AR, VR or MR would be a sound solution.

Step 2: Install XR technology within the business

In order to achieve mass-market adoption, brands must embed XR technology within their existing infrastructure. This means building ecosystems that attract, engage and excite people.

Across the travel, automotive, retail, real estate and healthcare sectors, XR can be installed as part of an innovative B2C customer experience strategy. Deploying this technology in-store will drive footfall and create a clear point of difference. More importantly, it can be used to add real value to the sales process.

For travel brands, this could mean offering in-store VR experiences that allow users to explore endless destinations in a simulated, fully immersive world. For car manufacturers, VR stations enable the instant customisation and build of personalised cars, taking customer experience into the stratosphere.

All of these implementations will play a key role in moving the market from anticipation to mass adoption. For brands, now is the time to pinpoint effective strategies and lead this evolution as an early adopter.

Step 3:  Target the power user

In the next three to five years, the XR market will enjoy a confluence of increasing quality, decreasing costs and widespread consumer adoption.

As mass-market acceptance grows, more and more shoppers will begin to purchase at-home XR devices. From VR headsets to AR-powered devices, these acquisitions will open up new revenue streams for B2C transactions.  

A more profitable investment in the long term, targeting power users enables direct-to-consumer marketing. In short, you can reach the customer wherever he or she may be.

What does this mean for brands?

Immersive and customisable experiences; true expression of brand identity; the ability to offer unrivalled choice and comparison; rich, emotion-led marketing in which two people (a buyer and a seller) can interact and communicate together in an entirely virtual world. This real-time, live, interchangeable feedback offers an immersion and an experience that dwarfs the limitations of a 2D website.  

Creating purpose-driven experiences

While XR development is progressing at a fast-pace, it’s important that we educate developers, clients and customers about how to efficiently use these technologies in different sectors of the market.

A lot of developers are experimenting with the technology, but often these ideas lack real direction, purpose and value. As a result, many brands and consumers continue to see XR as a gimmick used only for entertainment purposes.

The truth is far removed – XR is a powerful tool, when used correctly. The more we understand XR, the more we will see purpose-driven experiences that add value to people’s lives.

Adoption takes time, but when it occurs, innovation will pave the way for an entirely new ecosystem of creativity and experimentation.

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