Is your brand VR ready?

This year will see the arrival of virtual reality headsets from the likes of Oculus Rift and Samsung to the high street.

The new platform could provide a powerful marketing opportunity for brands, but how eager will consumers be to engage with it? Industry leaders gathered at Essence Digital for Propeller PR's Turbine event, "Virtual reality: are you experienced?" to debate the unique potential of the emerging technology.

"2016 is the launch year for consumer level VR. There are a lot of fantastic systems out there, a lot of hardware being developed, a lot of big multinationals pouring a lot of money into this," said Jason Kingsley, co-founder of Rebellion.

VR headsets to hit the shelves in the coming months

According to Kingsley, the immersive nature of VR could prove valuable for marketers: "It drags you into a world that is different and so your reactions tend to be stronger... I would imagine that the potential for brand awareness could be amongst the strongest of any of the media that we’ve got."

One of the brands already harnessing the power of VR technology is Thomas Cook, which most recently included Google Cardboard headsets in its brochures, allowing customers to virtually experience potential destinations from the comfort of their own homes.

Industry leaders discuss the year ahead for VR at Essence Digital

Kudzi Manungo, product management executive at Thomas Cook, explains, "[It provided] a way for customers to use a brochure- a very old, traditional way of marketing- and blend it with a new digital experience."

Karl Woolley, digital, VR & immersive content at Framestore, warns that marketers should avoid making VR campaigns just for the sake of it: "What I’d like to see is more content out there that’s exciting for being original VR content, rather than a marketing campaign that happens to have been run in VR."

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