virtual reality

A recent report conducted by Nielsen revealed the likelihood of consumers’ readiness to engage with virtual reality. According to the study, customers ranging between the ages 18 to 54 felt that they were equally knowledgeable about VR as wearables, 3-D printing, and the Internet of Things.

The online study reviewed the behavior and attitude of 8,000 customers toward VR and other key technologies after being presented with one video (out of 100 options) spanning news clips to brand videos to product reviews.

As augmented reality enters the mainstream, customers are becoming larger fans and are willing to embrace the new form of experiential content. Approximately one-fifth of the study participants disclosed that they felt knowledgeable about virtual technology. About 25 percent of those surveyed considered themselves enthusiastic about the technology.

The research also analyzed consumers’ interest and knowledge of available technology and devices. Not surprisingly, smartphones topped the list with 71 percent of those surveyed feeling they possessed knowledge of the device and 74 percent were interested in it. Tablets secured second position with each category garnering 60 percent of both knowledge and interest. Thirty-one percent of the audience felt knowledgeable about ad blockers and 43 percent were all in favor. Virtual reality landed the sixth position revealing that 27 percent felt knowledgeable of the new technology and 36 percent were fans of it.

All devices reviewed had equal or higher percentages of consumer interest than knowledge, proving large opportunities for not only education, but engagement.

Nielsen took the study one step further, categorizing the respondents into sections according to their likelihood to adopt VR: PaVRs (Pavers) and ConVRts (Converts). The first group consists of those more likely to purchase VR in the next year and forge the path for others while the latter segment reflected those who might not be early adopters, but whose interest peaks with new insight and information.

Retailers take note: Nearly 24 percent of U.S. citizens within the ages of 18-54 belong to the PaVRs category. “These consumers tend to be younger and have higher-than-average incomes, making them a desirable audience for both publishers and advertisers,” the report said.

There’s also high opportunity for publishers, brands and networks to reach this demographic. The report said, “The potential within the PaVR segment can’t be stressed enough. The study found that that these consumers watch a five more television networks in a given month than the average consumer, they spend 8 percent more time watching television and they spend 7 percent more time online.”

What’s more, PaVRs are spending nearly at the same rate they’re watching television. “PaVRs also outspend the average consumer in most purchase categories, including nearly twice as much on live event tickets (195 percent); quick-serve restaurants (179 percent), and alcoholic beverages (175 percent),” said the report.

The influence of the demographic is paramount. “Advertisers will be pleased to find that PaVRs are ‘triple-A’ consumers: they adopt new products and service, they advocate for the brands they love and they appreciate premium quality — and are willing to pay a premium price,” said Harry Brisson, director of lab research at Nielsen.

ConVRts made up about 20 percent of the U.S. population falling within the ages of 18-54. The report suggests taking a more educational stance for this group, as they will warm to the idea of VR the more they’re informed about it. And it won’t take long — the report noted that it took only about two minutes of exposure of content surrounding VR and its capabilities for consumers to feel more familiar with the technology. This was also reflected in a booming 50 percent rise in likelihood to adapt and purchase VR technology following this experience, the study said.

It’s all in the messaging, though. If producing VR educational content, consider spotlighting non-gamers and personal experiences — make it relatable. With virtual and augmented reality becoming the buzzwords of the industry, brands and retailers would be wise to consider educational strategies to begin informing customers of its potential before the actual release of the technology.

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