B&Q concept store in China uses VR to let people test products
B&Q concept store in China uses VR to let people test products
A view from Alasdair Lennox

Not a gimmick: Oculus Rift is poised to deliver 'penny drop' moment

Augmented reality is about to have its 'penny drop' moment, according to Alasdair Lennox, executive creative director at Fitch EMEA, and brands need to start...

Virtual reality gets truly interesting once marketers successfully communicate the intangible aspect that drives emotional attachment

There’s been increasing interest from marketers around Oculus Rift, particularly with news that Oculus Rift headsets are being shipped to consumers from early 2016, and quite rightly so.

In the virtual reality headset world it’s the one that’s broken through the barriers of development, allowing this once unattainable technology into our everyday lives at an acceptable price and at a good level of quality.

Anticipating feeling

Where technology like Oculus Rift is set to drive greatest value is in helping brands articulate the intangible benefits of a product to sell an aspiration or a lifestyle. For creative companies a huge challenge has been to anticipate the feeling a product or service will give a customer – how does it emotionally affect them and how can we develop this attachment?

Virtual reality gets truly interesting once marketers successfully communicate the intangible aspect that drives emotional attachment. It can create a ‘penny drop’ moment with potential customers that pushes them towards a sale – when they realise your brand is the right choice for them.

VIVID VR retail concept

To highlight the strength of virtual reality for brands and retailers in delivering this ‘penny drop’ moment we have worked with B&Q, the DIY company, to create a new retail brand for them called VIVID in China.

Virtual reality can create that magical moment that has so far eluded marketers

The store has not been designed to sell DIY products but to deliver projects, for example, enable people to build their dream apartment. When a consumer has created their dream abode they can go into a 4D augmented reality space, put on a headset and virtually walk around the newly designed apartment before it’s been built. They can wander around the different rooms of their apartment, they can look up and down, at different floor finishes, they can pick up vases, they can turn on the lights and the taps – they can almost smell the bread baking in the kitchen.

Visualise the intangible

It’s this 4D augmented reality experience which has visualised the intangible, it’s made that dream become so real that they can commit and put their money behind it.

Virtual reality can create that magical moment that has so far eluded marketers. It has the ability to transport customers to a different world that’s beyond their imagination.

Oculus Rift provides a fantastic opportunity for forward thinking creative agencies who can give this technology an everyday use and purpose. Today, virtual reality is less about gaming but about how it can be deployed commercially on behalf of brands to create dream-like shopping experiences in our everyday lives that creates a strong bond between the brand and consumer by articulating the intangible benefits of a product or service. I just hope the penny drops with marketers in terms of what Oculus Rift can achieve.