Distinguishing your product from your competitors and targeting the right markets for your product is the key to capturing and monopolizing your own market segments. Virtual and augmented reality are very popular among certain customer segments and are very interesting to others. Let’s explore these segments to see how you can effectively market your immersive content.
Innovators & Early Adopters
According to the “diffusion of innovations” theory, the first 2.5% users of a new technology are the “innovators”, the next 13.5% are the “early adopters”, and the next 35% are the “early majority.” VR is still firmly in the early stages of the diffusion of innovation, with a large amount of room to grow into the “late majority” and “laggards”. If your targeted customers are more affluent, younger, and technologically inclined, then using VR/AR technology makes you appear forward-thinking, technologically adept, and refreshing. This also works to reverse a boring company image and capture audiences you may have had trouble capturing before. There are many additional advantages to this approach:
New technologies and their early adopters were often hampered by a lack of content. For example, early adopters of HD television sets did not have many TV channels that broadcast in HD or DVDs that were in HD. They expected for that content to arise over time, and early DVD formats (HD DVD & Blu-ray) or television channels that were in HD captured the early adopters entirely since there was little other choice. VR is more mature in terms of content than that, but it isn’t as ridiculously competitive as the App Store or television. Therefore, capturing audiences with your VR software is easier.
Male vs Female Users
Most VR users are male, so if your product disproportionately targets men, then VR would be an easier platform to reach them on. If your product disproportionately targets women, then you may want to consider use cases that do not involve customer owned headsets; a showroom VR headset isn’t significantly different in its use by men or women. The general difference is that men tend to own VR headsets more than women, but both enjoy the technology.
A notable idea to keep in mind is that the male-female difference is still only an average. If you pursue it, VR software targeted primarily for female users may be able to strongly capture the niche because of relatively little competition. If you are a new entrant to VR this may be a worthwhile strategy: to get extremely enthusiastic fans in one niche segment that will carry over when you expand to wider audiences.
AR, on the other hand, isn’t as segmented by gender. For example, the AR game Pokémon Go early on was used significantly more by women than men. Over time the numbers equalized, but with women still staying as the majority of users. AR doesn’t require the headsets or other equipment VR does, and so there are not significant gender differences in usage; they mostly represent the distribution of smartphones.
While the stereotypical user of a VR headset is a “techy gamer guy”, the audiences interested in using VR are large and varied. While interest declines with age, even Baby Boomers have a generally positive (64% positive) attitude regarding VR. Younger generations are very positive and interested in the technology. 81% of people who used VR told their friends about the experience and 79% would try it again. Keep in mind that the technology will keep improving over time and even these numbers will seem relatively low.
Maintaining a forward-looking and innovative company image can be facilitated using AR/VR. You can look through any number of examples from Pokémon Go for Nintendo and Niantic, or Volvo Reality for Volvo to see how previously “boring” companies created something new and interesting to attract customers.
VR and AR are rapidly growing into commonplace media technologies. Right now, the platform is in need of software content and providers of that will be tapping into a well of expectant and excited customers. Getting in early with the early adopters allows you to be a big player by the time the majority comes around. Other factors such as the male and female divide in headset ownership and usage are important to consider. Additionally, VR has an extremely positive public image, and attaching your company’s name to it as one of the early adopters can be beneficial in a myriad of ways.