By: Cory Kinne, Research Analyst
You don’t have to be a tech nerd to know that Virtual Reality is cool. It just is. There’s a reason it is always cropping up in fiction—from early sightings in Ray Bradbury’s Illustrated Man, to the smash-hit Matrix trilogy and beyond. The idea of transporting ourselves into a simulated world is intoxicating.
Excitement over Virtual Reality (VR) reaches a fever pitch in the realm of video games. Allowing players to visualize themselves in the worlds they are exploring opens new doors for immersive storytelling. Possibly no other industry is positioned to gain as much from advancements in VR technology as the gaming industry, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have utility elsewhere.
After spending an evening playing with my new Google Cardboard headset, I stumbled upon a question: How might VR be useful in Market Research?
Thousands of dollars are spent on product evaluation clinics, especially in the automotive industry; finding an appropriate sized venue and arranging the delivery of vehicles carries a hefty price tag. What if a clinic could be conducted for the cost of shipping a box of VR headsets and the booking of a hotel conference room?
Obviously, examining a 360 degree rendering of a vehicle will never replace the richness of the traditional, more tactile in-person experience. But is there value to be gained from the agility and simplicity of VR? For example, could insights be uncovered earlier in the design process? Could VR technology minimize the likelihood of unforeseen flaws making their way to the finished product?
Of course, we shouldn’t limit our thinking to the automotive industry—there are other areas where this technology could be useful. It is possible VR will open doors to new areas of Market Research, areas that are currently unexplored or, at the very least, underrepresented.
Imagine working with a hotel chain during the construction of a new property—using a VR headset, respondents may be able to explore a digital mockup of proposed room layouts and designs. With the exception of bed comfort, nearly everything could be evaluated! Feedback on room size, color schemes, furniture design, space utilization and even the artwork on the wall could help ensure the satisfaction of future guests.
The history of VR is filled with bumps and bruises, but with an unprecedented number of products entering the market it appears that virtual reality is here to stay. Though the technology is clearly in its infancy, it may be prudent to speculate about its future utility—further progress in availability, usability, and realism has the potential to revolutionize how we conduct our research.
Who knows the places we’ll be able to go…