Google Cardboard is a virtual reality headset that works with a smartphone.

Consumers aren’t stalling to learn about new technology — and what it can offer. A Nielsen study, “Games 360” revealed that consumer awareness about virtual reality has nearly doubled in a year — signaling to retailers and fashion apparel brands that it’s time to consider incorporating VR features into the market.

The research included a survey of more than 2,000 teens and adults in the U.S. After the original poll was submitted to consumers, raw data was weighted to ensure accuracy compared to the U.S. census data.

Though generally still low, consumers are beginning to turn a corner in awareness and adoption of virtual reality. Familiarity of the technology almost doubled — it grew from a 28 percent awareness rate in 2016 to 51 percent this year.

Of the various devices, consumers were most familiar with the Samsung Gear VR. Of those polled, 34 percent had heard of it. Twenty-six percent of respondents were familiar with Sony Playstation VR and 25 percent of Oculus Rift. Google’s Cardboard device, which essentially is a headset for a smartphone to run a VR app had a 19 percent awareness level.

Consumers might be more aware of the technology and various devices, but they’re not quite ready to purchase one. Of the respondents, only seven percent said they would “Definitely or probably purchase” a Samsung Gear VR or Sony Playstation VR. Despite its lower price point — entry fees start at $15 — only four percent of respondents said they’d likely buy a Google Cardboard.

This is good news for retailers — there’s time to experiment with the technology and how it can be integrated into customer journeys. Older Millennials between 25 and 34 were the most likely to pick up a VR device — 27 percent said they’re intending to purchase one. Here is a new touch point to connect shoppers with a brand. Think about endless aisles, try-on tools and interactive beauty tutorials as an entry for the technology.

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What Samsung’s New VR Partnerships Mean for Retailers

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