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Guest Column: Cannes Lions 2016 - Content companies will now need to cater to 'experiencers', not viewers: Sameer Sainani, BCCL

20-June-2016
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Guest Column: Cannes Lions 2016 - Content companies will now need to cater to 'experiencers', not viewers: Sameer Sainani, BCCL

Virtual Reality (VR) is virtually the new reality in marketing today – it is a technology whose time has come. VR closely simulates a consumption experience for the consumer; it is about getting the consumer to go through the product experience before actually consuming it, and since the experience is a curated one, it is more likely to trigger actual consumption.

It works very well in case of product categories that are experiential in nature, such as Tourism, Automobiles, Hotels, etc. A tourism destination could actually get the consumer to experience the locales rather than just showing them photos or videos. An auto company could get the consumer to experience a test drive in a car that’s yet to be launched and a luxury hotel could create the actual hotel experience with the consumer sitting in his house. A paints or interior decor company could simulate the look after the job is done, thus enabling the consumer to visualize and experience the end product.

Content and media companies will see a huge change. The consumer now experiences the content instead of just viewing it. Instead of watching a match on TV, imagine watching it sitting in the dressing room via a VR headset! Or watching a news show right from the studio.

In India, the challenge in VR adoption will be linked to the penetration of headsets, which is a function of the costs and the technology. While a VR headset costs about Rs 8000 to Rs 8500, it will need seamless rendition to enable long hours of viewing. Also, content companies will need to create content keeping in mind that the viewer is now an experiencer.

In the current scheme of things, marketers are already thinking of VR campaigns: a leading financial products company is looking at simulating the banking experience for its consumers while an airline is looking at VR to get its high-end consumers to experience the comfort of its to-be-launched top of the line product offering for a long haul flight. A high end realtor is developing a walk-through of his bespoke luxury apartments for consumers to get a feel of the end product. The minute the headsets get into the market, and once people are addicted to the VR experience, the normal experience may not appeal to them at all.

‘Establishing a VR Roadmap for Creative Industries’ was a great session today. While I am aware and follow the advances made in the sphere of VR, a session like this gives you a sense of direction as to where it could be headed because what we are experiencing is VR in the very initial nascent stage. We don’t know how it is going to shape up. But industry experts telling you about what’s the future of it just spurs your thoughts.

Read the full report on ‘Establishing a VR Roadmap for Creative Industries’ here: http://www.exchange4media.com/advertising/cannes-lions-2016vr-virgins-to-disappear;-immersive-experience-set-to-overtake-tv-in-a-few-years-say-experts_64926.html

 (Sameer Sainani is Director, Response, BCCL and follows VR as a special interest in addition to other areas of technology in marketing.)

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