By Barton Goldenberg
Customer X is an established blueberry grower located in the beautiful state of Oregon. They just received private equity funding to expand their blueberry operations globally. Customer X has never done business globally and is keen to learn global best practices from their blueberry supplier, a global leader delivering the industry’s best blueberry genetics, plants and technical support to blueberry growers located around the world. Company X knows that growing conditions in blueberry regions outside the US like Peru or Spain meaningfully differ from conditions in Oregon. The owner of Company X sits back and ponders: “How can I quickly visit our supplier’s global nurseries, see how their blueberry plants grow in different countries and in different climates, and learn what kind of ‘Grower Support’ they provide in different blueberry regions of the world.”
Customer X is afraid this is a huge undertaking and calls their blueberry supplier for advice. Customer X is delighted to learn about the supplier’s innovative, new program called LABVAR (‘Learn About Blueberries in Virtual & Augmented Reality’). This new program requires Customer X personnel to put on Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality (VR/AR) headsets to virtually visit the supplier’s facilities and other customers’ blueberry fields. VR/AR also allows Customer X to visualize various options for setting up a new blueberry farm from scratch, e.g., planting the actual field including proper spacing between blueberry plants. The LABVAR program also links into the supplier’s digital customer community where blueberry growers and subject matter experts exchange ideas and solve each other’s challenges. The president of Company X is thrilled and says to his executive team: “Wow, our supplier is amazing. We will be able to expand globally!”
Sound like science fiction? Not at all. VR/AR has established itself as the most disruptive technology for the next decade. Worldwide spending on VR/AR is forecast to accelerate out of the COVID-19 pandemic, growing from $12 billion in 2020 to $75 billion in 2024 to $1.5 trillion in 2030. Among thought leaders in multiple industries, applying VR/AR to sales and marketing is the norm today.
In the retail industry:
- Ikea’s Place app leverages AR by letting customers digitally place furniture in their home to make sure the furniture is the right size, design, and functionality.
- Home Depot’s Project Color app leverages AR and lets buyers see what a paint color will look like in their home considering lighting, physical objects, and shadows in the room.
- Jack Daniels incorporates VR into their product offering whereby customers get virtual tours of the distillery, allowing them to take a close look at the whiskey-making process.
- Warby Parker’s ‘Virtual Try-On’ AR app, Sephora’s Virtual Artist AR tool and Gucci’s AR app allow customers to try on their products virtually (eyeglasses, cosmetics, and shoes respectively).
In the finance industry:
- Citibank’s AR app allows financial traders to make financial decisions by visualizing real-time financial data including stock indexes trends.
- Fidelity Labs’ VR app allows customers to manage their stock portfolios in a simple and safe manner.
- Capital One’s Auto Navigator app eases the pain of buying a new car; users virtually visit a car dealership or point to any car on the street to get pricing and other financial information.
- BNP Paribas Real Estate’s VR app allows property investors to meet with brokers and take a virtual tour of a property anywhere in the world.
In the travel industry:
- All Nippon Airways (ANA) – ANA encourages users to put on VR headset to enter ANA’s futuristic holodeck in the front of their 777 aircraft.
- Virgin Holiday leverages VR so that prospective customers may digitally experience their beautiful resort in Mexico.
To read the full Use Case for each of these examples, go to The VR/XR/AR Resource Center for Business & Enterprise).
There are four reasons driving the explosion in VR/AR sales and marketing applications:
- Digital transformation. VR/AR applications take digital transformation to a higher level.
- Digital customers. VR/AR applications help create the memorable experiences customers expect.
- Innovative leadership. Leaders emphasizing cutting-edge technology wow their customers. Like the president of Company X said: “Our supplier is amazing!”
- Financial impact. VR/AR applications drive new customer sales and lower customer support costs.
Now is the time to create and/or implement your AR/VR strategy. Start by asking these questions: Where could VR/AR have the greatest impact in my organization: customer acquisition, customer retention or customer growth? How will my colleagues and I learn more about the VR/AR ‘Art-of-the-Possible’? What resources, internal or external, will we need to make VR/AR a reality in our company? How will AR/VR applications integrate with existing customer-facing technologies such as our digital customer community or our CRM system?
Here are the three things I ask you to remember:
- The #1 reason customers will continue to do business with your company depends on how easy you make it to do business with your company. VR/AR is a game-changer and a key component of achieving this goal.
- VR/AR is already a major tool for sales and marketing; its future use and impact will continue to soar.
- Remain healthy and eat your blueberries!
ISM would like to help you explore how Virtual and Augmented Reality developments can enhance your customer engagement. To schedule a chat, choose a good time HERE.
Barton Goldenberg (firstname.lastname@example.org) is president of ISM Inc. (www.ismguide.com). Since 1985, ISM has established itself as the premier strategic advisor to organizations seeking to create and implement world-class Customer Strategies. He is a thought leader and in high demand as a keynote speaker (www.bartongoldenberg.com) and is the author of four books including his latest – The Definitive Guide to Social CRM. To continue the dialog, call Barton at (301) 656-8448.