Emerging technology is no longer emerging. Brands are beginning to leap into a brave new world of Extended Reality (XR).
Heralded as the biggest technological innovation since the internet, XR refers to the spectrum of experiences that blurs the line between the real and simulated world, including Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR).
There’s been a demand from consumers for XR adoption locally, with more than 200,000 VR devices sold in Australia alone, according to Telyste.
This growth is a powerful indicative of consumers wanting to embrace experiences more fully and beyond just a photo or video medium.
The popularity of XR means innovative brands across the globe are already harnessing XR’s immersive capabilities to propel business growth.
Accenture’s Technology Vision 2018 report shows that, globally, 52% of businesses are developing an XR strategy, and 79% believe XR will have a widespread, cross-industry impact over the next three years.
A further 27% of executives state it is very important for their organisations to be a pioneer in XR solutions.
The emergence of this technology presents unprecedented opportunities for companies to reinvent traditional marketing.
As the first technology to ‘relocate’ people in time and space, the value of XR lies in its ability to create new marketing solutions that bridges the distance between people, information and experiences and promote engagement with brands.
Closing the Gap between people
Even while eliminating the physical barriers and distance between people, the most adept XR applications don’t take anything away from the real-world benefits of interpersonal engagement.
The New York Times created a powerful virtual storytelling campaign, 'The Displaced' a VR clip revealing children who had been displaced by war and conflict across the globe.
Empathy for others can also be achieved as it allows you to walk in someone elses shoes.
Closing the Gap between information
As a channel for delivering information, XR can effectively place rich data in ways that were previously unimaginable. For consumers, contextual data becomes an active and welcomed part of decision making.
Treasury Wine Estates this year rolled out an AR app portfolio for its wines following the successful trial of the app for US, 19 Crimes brand, where users hovered their device over bottles’ labels to hear each convict featured tell their story.
The interactive app drives connectivity between consumers and brands, adding an experiential element and making the wine purchase an accessible experience.
Closing the gap between experiences
The ability to deliver experiences that forge emotional connections and bring brands and consumers closer is arguably XR’s biggest potential for marketing.
The Marriott Hotels created a VR tourism experience, driving consumer interest by ‘transporting’ its customers to various locations around the world.
Examples like this will not only earn positive, lasting brand sentiment and customer advocacy but ultimately, sustainable revenue streams.
We can expect more XR applications to emerge as brands aim to create compelling experiences that shift seamlessly between the physical and digital worlds and channels.
However, the leap into XR requires more than faith: XR activation must be grounded in business reality and tied to strategic marketing objectives, or it runs the risk of being just another shiny object.
Ultimately, XR thrives when it is designed about people and less about technology.
Accenture Interactive Australia and New Zealand MD Michael Buckley