Marketing Products that Don't (yet) Exist (Part 1 of 2)
November 27, 2018
We live in a digital world. Traditional commodity-based transactions have been replaced with…well, nothing. A prime example of this is the music industry. Do you buy CDs anymore? Most people don’t. Songs are traded in cyberspace with no physical experience of exchanging currency. No cash registers, no “sold out” inventory, no hassle, right?
Our world is losing the constraints of time and space as we move to delivery systems that capitalize on the virtualization. Someone could get into their car, physically drive to an electronics store, and buy a compact disc, but why? Why do this when a few clicks on your iPhone result in immediate gratification?
It’s all about experience
Despite our obsession with instant gratification, records and record players are making a resurgence with music fans craving something “more.” There’s something deep in the human psyche craves “experience.” Over 7.6 million vinyl records were sold in the USA alone in the first half of 2018. What was arguably an obsolete technology has evolved in to a niche shopping and listening experience. Experience alone drives a multi-million-dollar enterprise.
Tools like VR and AR are the vanguards of “experience” in a digital world. VR and AR technologies aren’t the be all and end all solution of everyone’s marketing needs, but we must recognize that marketing, by its very nature, is evolving. We now have the capacity to sell things that do not — or, to be more specific — things that do not YET exist.
The power of concept
There are two primary reasons to use VR and AR: to show things that don’t — or couldn’t — exist otherwise, and to provide an experience that otherwise would not be attainable in the physical world. Look at Kickstarter, for example. For those unfamiliar with the platform, Kickstarter is an online funding platform for creative projects. The idea is to raise money to produce projects without the backing of a major company. The key to the platform is convincing people that your product can and will exist and that you can deliver as promised. The illusion of finality is often enough to convince people you are worth the investment.
Despite its shocking name and concept, the game Exploding Kittens is a great example of the power of concept. With one simple rendering and bit of graphic design, the creators managed to raise almost $9 million in the course of 30 days. A quirky idea, a quick rendering, and the ability to craft a compelling story can take you a long way.
The real estate experience
That is 3D design in its simplest form: providing you with a virtual solution for something that doesn’t yet exist. Real estate was another early adopter of VR and AR technologies. Often, developers put millions of dollars on the line to invest in properties in order to sell a concept of their vision of the future. Generating interest in their idea and convincing people to invest in their vision is a difficult prospect. It’s further complicated by government and local approval processes, physical obstacles like existing infrastructure, and complicated timelines. However, the real estate market was one of the early adopters with 3D visualization. Concepting something first in 3D minimizes the risk involved in the investment. Virtual Reality allows you to stand in a space and see spatial relations. Developers no longer need to guess how long it will take to walk from the building to the parking garage -- they can actually do it in VR. VR allows ideas to become reality.
Let’s get educational
Time travel may not exist, but VR is making it possible to virtualize history. For years, we have crafted video games that take us to outer space, to fantasy worlds and even to prehistoric times. So why haven’t museums re-purposed this material to teach? The answer is simple: cost. Video games make a profit. Education provides little to no path to reclaim the money invested in the expense of producing such an endeavor.
However as the field grows, the costs for VR development are dropping drastically, as do the barrier to entry for non-profits. What was previously out of the question is no longer a hard no. Educators, trainers, and fund raisers are looking to things like VR and AR to help them craft compelling narratives.
VR as a journey to health
Just as VR can help transport us, it can also help us escape. Doctors have recently begun trying to use VR to help pain management. Needle phobia is one of the most common fears among children who must receive vaccines and other treatments; this causes many children fear, anxiety, and pain. In some cases, phobias and anxieties may even cause parents to delay scheduled visits with the doctor. But what if children could be virtually transported someplace more relaxing, like a beach? VR to help with pain management is not just for use with children, but those experiencing childbirth, or even any situation that causes distress.
Interested in learning more in the practical and experiential uses for VR and AR technology? Read Part 2 of Len’s series on using 3D in your business’s marketing strategy.