Virtual reality and neuromarketing: made for each other

19 November 2019
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The examples we have of virtual reality show how true-to-life it really is. With a VR headset, you’re no longer a viewer, but an active participant instead.

Scientifically proven

Neuromarketing uses know-how from neuroscience for marketing purposes. Thanks to research, we know that in certain situations people react in certain ways, not only when they see and hear advertising, but in other situations too. This means that marketing activities can now home in on the needs of consumers even better than before. Anyway, wouldn’t everyone like an advertising campaign that has been scientifically proven to be effective? 

System 1 and system 2

As Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman once wrote in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow, for every situation, our brain uses two possible decision systems for making a choice. System 1 is fast, automatic, subconscious, intuitive and emotional. This contrasts with system 2: in this case choices are conscious, calculating, slow and considered. At the moment, from a marketing point of view, quick wins for virtual reality can be found in system 1, that is, products which are purchased primarily on the basis of impulse or emotion.

Making a bigger splash

An emotional experience is exactly what virtual reality claims to offer. As soon as you don a VR headset and you step onto the big-dipper, you brain reacts as if you’re actually on that rollercoaster. It’s a new state of existence.As soon as VR starts using camera images, you begin to feel as if you’re in a different place, because the image offers you a 3D experience. At the moment film still gives a more realistic image than simulated 3D images. As a result, your reflexes and subconscious respond more or less in the same way as they would in reality. The experience and immersiveness are enormous, especially in combination with 360-degree sound. The impression that it makes is considerable.The presence of your brand or product therefore has a lot more impact than with a statement that is quickly forgotten.

Positive association

What’s more, with virtual reality you can reach places others cannot reach, or can only reach with the greatest of difficulty. Neuromarketing is ideally suited to this. In the event of positive experiences (such as a goal, beautiful surroundings or situation), it’s possible, for example, to use a brand name on advertising signs or make the association in another way with your brand. The idea behind this is that your subconscious remembers the VR experience when decision system 1 comes into play when making a purchase.

For inspiration: 6 examples

The following examples give me reason to believe there are many interesting marketing opportunities with these applications.

1. Travel marketing

It’s possible to visualise amazing travel destinations even before you book. Take, for example, natural history documentaries, using the voice of David Attenborough

2. Formula 1

Who wouldn’t want to step into an F1 car or take up a grandstand seat at various places around the circuit? There’s a lot of interesting ideas for sponsors here. From a quality point of view, the example is not so good and whilst technically speaking it is 360 degrees (so not VR), but the example below provides a first step:

3. Extreme sports

The fact that Red Bull has gained such a high profile with its various Red Bull Experiences is still not good enough for them. The brand has now made its very own VR version of the Red Bull Air Race, so that you can experience the thrills and spills for yourself.

And GoPro has bought VR company Kolor. Just imagine you can experience all those fantastic GoPro films yourself! You can count on the fact that the consumer will remember your brand name as facilitator of this great experience!

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4. Football/rugby/basketball/tennis/boxing/golf/etc.

You can sell virtual tickets in the stadium or for those who want to experience the event from the comfort of their own homes. The match-day experience can be so much more intense if you feel as though you’re actually there. So plenty of scope for advertising before, during and after the event. What’s more, a link can be made to a virtual control room, where you can watch replays and statistics, as well as clips from other games or profiles of players. 

5. Films

Production companies are already starting to make films in VR (such as ‘Lost’, produced by Oculus). Once Hollywood starts producing VR movies, all kinds of interesting marketing opportunities are imaginable. Whereas now slick, sometimes blatant product placement is used, subtler forms of advertising might start appearing, for example, brands that tie in with positive scenes or scenes that tie in with a specific brand experience.

6. Music videos / concerts

Paul McCartney must have thought, you’re never too old for new technology. The former Beatle had a performance of Live and Let Die recorded and in virtual reality it’s as if you’re standing right next to him. Lots of musicians have signed sponsorship deals with leading brands, who no doubt see the potential for such intense forms of interaction with consumers.


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