‘Magical’ examples of VR and AR, particularly in entertainment and advertising, are propelling the industry towards meaningful and measurable use cases, most notably in education, healthcare and consumer research. The latter has been a bit of surprise to us, however our cognitive scientist has applied the psychology of thought, learning and mental processing to VR and AR to unlock new insights and behaviours. And we’re seeing a transformation in the research sector.
We know, from Behavioural Economics, that people don't make judgements in isolation, a number of things in our environment inform decision-making that we are not always aware of. Decisions are influenced by the context in which they occur, so asking someone about shopping habits in a focus group isn't always optimal. We also know, from implicit testing, that people don't always express how they truly feel about a brand or product when their rational, conscious brain is engaged. Sentiment is influenced by unconscious ‘in the moment’ thought, so asking questions after the event is only half the picture.
VR and AR is enabling brands to place people in the right context, with the right stimulus, to unlock insights and behaviours which were previously unavailable with traditional research tools and techniques. Take shopping, for example, very few brands and retailers have a physical store where they can test shopper behaviour in a realistic environment. Our partnerships with brands, agencies and research companies is therefore adding meaningful and measurable value to the marketing process.
Our scientist, Dr Ali Goode, is publishing a more in-depth piece (“Virtual Reality: the Research Tool for Behavioural Economists) later this week however three examples to whet your appetite…
Placing respondents in a VR room-scale CGI environment (supermarket, pharmacy, DIY store etc) allows researchers to observe real consumer behaviours and decisions. Respondents walk down an aisle with their virtual basket and pick up 3D models of products, whilst our proprietary mixed reality technology shows real-time video of their actions. It’s a step change in the quality of research stimulus, from 2D to 3D, and allows us to test brand positioning, packaging design, product concepts and point of sale.
Supplying a panel with a bespoke AR app enables them to place 3D models of products in physical, contextual environments (e.g. shampoo bottle on bathroom shelf, full size car on driveway) to capture their preferences. Participants view ‘virtual’ products in a real environment and investigate interactive design features such as logo, shape, colour etc. It allows qualitative research to be scaled to a quantitative sample and delivers increased stimulus, deeper insight and shorter feedback times on brand positioning, product concepts and packaging design.
Immersing participants in 360 videos of real environments (high street, airport, hospital etc) delivers contextual and scalable insight into consumer preferences. Participants are placed in 360 video scenarios with decision-trees (i.e. UI of different options) and assets can also be changed using CGI (e.g. ad copy on poster site) to test responses. It provides access to behavioural insight which wasn't possible before and allows us to research ethnography, signage, point of sale, ad copy, media attention and scenarios such as doctor-patient consultation.
Who'd have thought consumer research was cool ;)
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