Fashion brands may trade in blouses, handbags, and shoes, but their real currency is the illusion of exclusivity—access to a carefully cultivated world that’s more glamorous, adventurous, or interesting than our own. Luxury brands have invited followers to become part of their world on social media platforms like Snapchat, Instagram, and through live-streaming on Periscope. But that’s just a glimpse of the potential that virtual reality can offer. Imagine having the ability to give every attendee a front row seat at a fashion show, watch the designer as she creates a couture gown, or have a 3-D view of products while shopping! The ability to create immersive brand experiences for consumers through virtual reality is limitless and tremendously exciting for brands and consumers alike.
VR and Online Shopping
A recent survey found that 64% of smartphone users worldwide are interested in using VR technology to see items when they shop online. This outpaced every other activity including gaming and entertainment. Further, 35% of US internet users said they would be open to purchasing more products on virtual reality shopping platforms because they would offer a more realistic representation of the product and allow them to “try before they buy,” one of the major challenges of online shopping. Could virtual reality headsets become the shopping platform of the future? Some tech experts believe so, predicting that within five years there will be enough users with at-home headsets to offer VR shopping platforms.
A Look at the Technology
One of the most prominent formats marketers have used to deliver an immersive experience is 360-degree video, filmed using special camera that captures all angles of a particular scene. In a 360-degree video, the viewer becomes the director, manipulating the screen to focus on what they’re most interested in seeing. It could be the dress or the designer, but in a VR world, it’s really all about the viewer.
The growing availability of 360-degree video equipment, post-processing software, and ability to play 360-degree video on Facebook and YouTube has attracted more brands to the format. Although these videos are engaging on a flat screen, they are more captivating when utilizing a VR headset. Google Cardboard’s inexpensive headsets, coupled with a mobile app that allows access to content via smartphones, offer an immersive taste of the enhanced VR experience without the high price point of Oculus Rift or other VR headsets.
The Potential Of Virtual Reality for Designers and Fashion Brands
Designers are embracing technology as well. Last year, Tommy Hilfiger partnered with Samsung Gear VR to bring virtual reality to select stores and Rebecca Minkoff created a logo-emblazoned Google Cardboard headset that offered fans a seat at her show. For designers, it’s more than just the clothes, it’s the inspiration behind them and the world they envision for their brand. VR allows them to tell those stories in an interesting way and draws consumers into their vision.
While marketers know they can’t be left behind in the virtual world, they are unsure that engagement will attribute to sales. Although still in the experimental stage, there are applications in development that allow marketers to track every movement a user makes during a VR experience—in an e-commerce context, it can track how long users look at and “touch” products and track their journey. This data can help better inform a brand’s marketing strategy and future VR campaigns.
Although virtual reality is in its infancy, it’s exciting to consider the possibilities for brands to create digital worlds, connect communities through social media, and allow consumers to shop their stores from the comfort of their homes. Women’s Marketing is always exploring the latest innovations in technology and bringing cutting-edge opportunities to our clients. Contact us today to discover how we can help your brand develop a leading marketing and media strategy.
Sources: eMarketer Visual Reality and Beyond January 2016; Business of Fashion 3 Technologies Shaping the Future of Fashion February 2016, Footwear News Designers Tap Virtual Reality Buzz For Fashion Week February 2016