Editor’s Note: This post is part of our Big Ideas series, a column highlighting the innovative thinking and thought leadership at IIeX events around the world. Ana Galindo will be speaking at IIeX North America (June 11-13 in Atlanta). If you liked this article, you’ll LOVE IIeX North America. Click here to learn more.
Marketing research and more specifically, obtaining consumer feedback, has been evolving with the times; always taking advantage of modern technologies and seeking to gain respondents’ cooperation and engagement. From 1953 when Henry Brenner started the Home Testing Institute (HTI), followed by the first national paper and pencil diary panel (NPD) in 1964, to the first online survey conducted as a concept test for Frito-Lay in 1994.
The Smartphone Effect
While it was never an easy sell to get people to participate in surveys to provide their feedback, it is much more difficult today than ever before, as people’s attention is diverted in 100 different ways due to the smartphone craze. As fewer people are willing to give us their undivided attention and thoughtfully answer an online survey (as few as 2% of consumers will bother to complete a questionnaire), cost per interview goes up and researchers must be extremely creative in developing short yet engaging questions (and answer choices) that people are willing to do while on the go. Mobility is important as it is estimated that 30% to 40% of all online surveys are completed on a mobile device. In addition to device considerations (mobile vs. desktop), using more images and fewer words is the way to go. Did you know that the average person reads at most 20% to 28% of words during an online visit? This is no surprise as 79% of online users simply scan any new page they come across, and it is predicted that by 2018, 84% of communications will be visual. What is a researcher to do when the average person gets distracted in only 8 seconds?
We All Want Experiences
How can we have the voice of the customer guide business decisions when it is so incredibly difficult to obtain thorough and thoughtful feedback? At a time when people have no patience and immediate gratification is expected, immersing people in virtual and augmented experiences could be the answer. And if not THE answer, then for sure AN answer to gaining respondents’ enthusiastic collaboration and engagement.
Virtual Reality (VR)
While Virtual Reality is not new, its use in marketing research and consulting is relatively untapped. Agencies like Accenture are realizing the benefits of immersive reality in providing an experience without the actual expense of building or providing the experience in the real world, and in January of 2018, the company announced its intention to acquire Mackevision, a German-based 3D-enabled and immersive content producer. Virtual reality creates a simulated environment where, aside from a current lack of haptic feedback (though a near-certain eventuality), the brain engages and processes comparably to real life. In this manner, and especially when compared to traditional marketing research executions, participants’ senses are fully engaged in the experience leading to higher-quality insights. Furthermore, YuMe researched the emotional engagement of 360-video in a headset vs. 360-video on a flat screen vs. 2D video. In a headset was 27% more emotionally engaging than 2D, and flat 360-video was 17% higher. YuMe also found viewers engaged 34% longer in a headset and 16% longer with flat 360-video than the same content in 2D. Advances in foveated rendering, audio capabilities, and neural integration are expected to further engage our senses in the coming years, making VR research insights even more valuable than they already are.
Using VR in research not only solves for the respondent engagement issue, but it also saves considerable time and expenses as a physical environment does not need to be created. Some would argue that developing the digital assets is not easy nor cheap, but it would be way harder (and much more expensive) to build actual physical spaces. Another benefit of VR in research is that it can aggregate user behavior anonymously and instantaneously, enabling product teams with real-time data for faster, informed decision making. Moreover, commercial real estate organizations and architectural design firms like PDR (led by Lauri Goodman Lampson) can also benefit from VR to guide their concepts as users can provide feedback on spatial elements in virtual environments before time-consuming and costly build-outs. We look forward to chatting with Lauri on this subject!
The question stands – would getting naked command longer than 8 seconds of sustained attention and more engagement than a VR survey? That is for you to find out!
For more on how VR is being integrated into the marketing spectrum and the value of metrics within a VR environment, a highly recommended read is Marketing New Realities – An Introduction to Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality Marketing, Branding & Communications – by The Marketing Futurists, Cathy Hackl and Samantha G. Wolfe.