In recent years, technology has developed very fast. Where previous developments happened slowly, in trickles — the invention of the television, smartphone technology, even the microwave oven — the past decade has seen massive strides in the world of technology. Nowhere is that more evident than in the fields of augmented and virtual reality. As AR and VR content becomes more accessible (and more advanced), businesses from all industries are asking themselves: what does this mean for me? Here, we answer that question.

Take experiential marketing to new heights

Experiential marketing, also known as engagement or on-ground marketing, is a method through which brands engage consumers by immersing them in an experience. Swedish furniture retailer IKEA’s I Wanna Have a Sleepover in IKEA campaign was one such example of successful experiential marketing.

You might see where we’re going with this. Rather than providing consumers with physical experience, brands are looking to VR to provide immersive experiences to individuals in the comfort of their own home. An example of this is cheese brand Boursin’s Sensorium VR experience.

Cheese-lovers are treated to a literal rollercoaster through a fridge, past a variety of Boursin products. The video itself was part of a wider campaign to raise awareness of the brand to UK audiences but serves as an example of how VR can be used in your marketing strategy.

The great thing about VR experiential marketing is its versatility. As you will have seen in the example above, even the most quirky and whimsical of concepts can make for an engaging VR video.

And because it’s virtual, the creative possibilities to spice up your marketing are limitless. Send your customers into the furthest reaches of space or the very depths of the earth — it’s up to you. There are lots of agencies out there who can create bespoke VR videos for businesses, although the cost will vary depending on what you want. Otherwise, there are plenty of affordable VR options that let you create low-cost virtual reality experiences yourself.

Sample products or services anywhere virtually

Perhaps the most popular trend in AR has been for brands to let consumers visualise objects from the comfort of their own home. Augmented reality is arguably much more accessible than virtual reality due to the prevalence of smartphones and apps that make AR possible.

As a consequence, more and more brands are releasing apps that let consumers sample products or services without ever setting foot in a store. IKEA is of particular note as an example. Its IKEA Place app lets homeowners virtually place furniture from the IKEA catalogue in their home using their smartphone’s camera.

And beauty brand L’Oreal is no stranger to implementing AR in their marketing, having developed a range of apps that let customers sample makeup using their phone’s front camera.

In a 2017 episode of Marketing Speak, crowd dynamics specialist and president of Jumpwire Media Gavin McGarry stated: “AR is definitely going to change the way we do things in everyday life.”

So what does this mean for your business? Augmented reality apps are definitely within your reach, with affordable tools like ZapWorks letting individuals and businesses alike create their own AR experiences. But you’re not just limited to practical uses. The May 2016 issue of the New Yorker magazine let readers journey through an illustrated cityscape through their smartphone:

Artist Christoph Niemann’s artwork came to life at the touch of a button, showing that augmented reality doesn’t need to be functional for your business — simply being entertaining is just fine.

At-desk VR training sessions for employees

And it’s not just your customers that can benefit from this tranche of augmented and virtual reality content either. Your employees too can forgo the bad coffee and lifeless monologues of induction training and instead experience dynamic at-desk training sessions. While we can’t guarantee the coffee won’t be bad, we can accurately predict that virtual reality training will become commonplace in many workplaces in the near future.

Perhaps the most exciting use of virtual reality in training can be found in the healthcare sector. Last year, Microsoft collaborated with Case Western University to develop a training scheme with the aim of teaching medical students the complexities of the human anatomy. More than simply knowing the name and function of each organ, the AR technology also illustrated how each part related to the rest of the body. In developing this training programme, the team behind it hope to revolutionise the way doctors are taught forever.

So what are the actual benefits of using VR for training outside the medical sector? Workplace accidents happen, and for those working in industries such as construction or defence, mistakes made during training can be fatal. Virtual reality offers new recruits the chance to become confident with tools in a safe, controlled setting until they are ready to use them in the real world.

VR training programmes are also significantly more affordable than implementing regular training sessions, saving on staff overheads as trainees can learn alone at their desk. It also comes with the added bonus of individuals being able to repeat the training as often as they like, becoming more skilled and confident in their role as a result.

Augmented and reality technology is growing. Within a matter of years, it will permeate many aspects of our lives, both at home and at work. The above are just some examples of how this technology will change the way we live. It’s well worth looking to implement VR/AR in your business to reap the benefits of this rapidly-changing technology.