By 2020, analysts predict as many as 100 million virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality headsets will ship worldwide. While video gaming will be a primary reason people buy into VR, the implications for marketers are profound with virtual product testing environments and virtual shopping spaces already in development. Automakers can already leverage this technology to save precious time in the research and development of new concepts and models.
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) need to make important decisions on their vehicle launches. But at times, OEMs either do not have a full or physical prototype available, the budget or the time for a full product evaluation, which can take years. Traditionally, automakers have built heavy resin or clay prototypes for assessment, then paid to ship them from market to market for testing. But what if that model is a non-starter? Then the company must either forgo consumer input or delay launch—either option can be a costly misstep. OEMs are looking for economical ways to provide timely and credible input for their new product innovations. VR can be one of those alternatives, especially for early development.
Ipsos conducted three independent studies to test if VR can determine the strengths and weakness of the platform for full product evaluations. Ipsos’ analysis showed that VR testing has the ability to accurately predict a new innovation’s potential as an in-person or full-product evaluation.
Download the full report about VR for automotive OEMs.
To get started, OEMs need to take just four steps:
- Be open-minded and strategic – this technology is a departure for executives but will become the norm for your customers. Today’s kids, tomorrow’s drivers, are growing up surrounded by new technologies. Product testing in a virtual environment won’t seem unnatural to them at all.
- Recognize that the industry can successfully take advantage of VR – your customers are already researching online and on mobile, comparing features and prices all before they visit a lot. VR can integrate into your testing procedures and eventually beyond, all the way to the showroom floor.
- Be aware of the limitations – this technology can’t solve all your testing problems, at least not yet. It’s great for predicting the potential of new features in the car, but isn’t ideal for rating roominess of vehicles and interior feel. As VR equipment improves, this will likely become less of an issue.
- Consider VR for early production testing – use this technology as part of the prototyping process. If you can leverage it in the right ways, it can lead to cost-savings and reduce the iteration cycle creating time efficiencies as well.
In short, virtual and augmented reality are technologies that can make a difference today and will make an even greater difference tomorrow. Early adoption now can start paying dividends and only lead to more widespread use in days to come.