Image Source The Think Collective

Sheridan&Co attended an event hosted by the Think Collective last week that explored the future of VR. Impressively, $4bn has been invested in Virtual Reality since 2010 and there are 10.8 million people using the technology today. With a predicted growth of $250bn by 2020, we are interested to see how the innovative technology will shape the future of retail.

VR is a powerful tool for storytelling. During the event, we learned that people remember 10% of what they see, 30% of what they hear and 90% of what they say and do. The key insight here is that to build memorable content, consumers need to participate in an experience. VR invites consumers to participate, as opposed to passively engaging with a brand through seeing and hearing. The participatory quality of VR means that it is a powerful educative tool.

During the evening, the Sheridan&Co team discovered how the technological platform delivers an immersive learning landscape. One implementation of the tool is that VR has been used to educate aspiring doctors throughout surgical procedures. Moving forward, retailers and brands must consider how VR can be an educative tool that resonates with consumer attitudes and interests.

Due to the participatory nature of VR, it fosters the opportunity for consumers to experience moments of discovery and serendipity. The tool particularly resonates with experience hungry millennials. Nearly two thirds of the consumer group have presented the argument that they are more fulfilled by experience over materialism.

Most recently we have been observing the challenges department stores face in attracting millennials.  Whilst stores such as Saks have been turning to social media fuelled concepts to entice a younger consumer into store, VR could be greatly opportune.

One speaker, Francois de Bodinat, CMO at ZeroLight, explored how Virtual Reality can be incorporated within the consumer’s buying journey. Interestingly, VR can be used at any stage of the consumer journey. The key insight is that it should be use to develop emotive engagement. Whilst in early stages within retail, brands must move away from viewing VR in a singular perspective to successfully implement the technology within store. Instead retailers must focus on the emotive inducing qualities and attractive functionalities VR can provide to enhance the consumer experience.