An increasing number of enterprise marketing departments are aggressively embracing — and, in many cases, allocating marketing budget dollars toward — emerging technologies. That’s great; in fact, the digital economy demands (and rewards) agility and forward-thinking.
But as with comedy, timing is key to the effective use of new technologies. And according to one major technology research firm, marketers who are going all-in on virtual reality (VR) technology are jumping the gun.
“Forrester estimates that critical-mass consumer adoption of high-end VR headsets is at least five years away,” writes Forrester Research analyst Thomas Husson.
Husson and colleague Samantha Merlivat recently published a report titled “Virtual Reality Isn’t Ready For Marketing Yet,” based on two large online surveys of adults in the U.S.
As Husson writes in his blog, the authors see a bright future for VR in marketing:
In the next decade, we believe that unlike any channel to date, VR will offer highly immersive and intimate experiences with a future integrated with social and IoT. This unique combination will create not just new storytelling capabilities, but also opportunities to craft whole new experiences as part of the brand offering. … Moving forward, VR will be enhanced by sensory devices that increase the immersive and realistic nature of virtual experiences and transition the users from passive participant to live actor. Think of it as “human teleportation.”
But — and this is a big but — that future is not immediate.
As MediaPost’s Chuck Martin writes, the Forrester report shows that 42% of adult Americans “say they have never heard about virtual reality headsets and 46% say they don’t see a use for VR in their lives.”
OK, but what about the majority who have heard about VR? They’re not using the technology either; Forrester estimates “the total VR headset market at fewer than 2% of online adults by the end of this year,” Martin reports.
Bottom line: When it comes to VR, we’re still in the early stage of consumer adoption. That matters not only to enterprise marketers, but to enterprise IT pros who eventually will have to support VR technology used by employees. If Forrester is correct, most enterprises will be able to ease into VR technology as consumer (and, subsequently, employee) use grows over the next few years.
Virtual reality and what it means for media content