Buying a car can be challenging, whether it is selecting a model or choosing the right interior – especially considering the plethora of options available. With recent developments in AR and VR, the automotive industry is looking at immersive technologies to help them overcome these challenges in an affordable and scalable way.
Since the inception of the world wide web, companies were able to take a market that once heavily relied on mass advertising to targeted, personalized marketing. Soon customers were able to choose a different kind of leather for the seat from the comfort of their home. However, AR and VR can help to take this process a level higher. In this article, we will be highlighting the reasons that immersive technologies are important for automotive companies, and how they can use it to attract and better serve their consumers.
Automotive Companies’ Use of Immersive Virtual Reality
A car often reflects an individual’s personality. As previously stated, with the help of AR/VR, automotive companies are now able to create a more personalized marketing platform for their consumers. Immersive virtual reality can help manufacturers form a deeper emotional connection with their users.
This will not only make purchasing decisions easier on consumers but also help create strong brand loyalty. Companies often lose out on loyal customers due to failure to meet customer expectations, lack of unique relevance to consumers, and poor transparency. With the help of immersive technologies like AR/VR, companies will be able to create a more realistic comparison of what the final product will look and feel like for purchasers.
Incorporating immersive technology into the automotive industry will ultimately help with transparency and reduce post-purchase dissonance. Moreover, early adopters of AR/VR will also garnish the benefits of having it as a unique value proposition which will create a bond between the brand and the consumer – at least until this technology is adopted on a mass scale.
In lieu of these findings, we have crafted a post outlining five ways that auto manufacturers like Infinity, BMW, and others have already begun implementing AR/VR into their marketing efforts. These efforts include creating a virtual reality showroom, building custom AR experiences for customers, virtual test driving simulations, the relationship between VR and nostalgia, and virtual car simulation for market research.
Virtual Reality Showroom
Buying a new car is challenging and often leads to cognitive dissonance after the purchase. Automotive companies are alleviating this issue and making this process less stressful on consumers by implementing virtual showrooms where potential buyers can get an immersive experience with their vehicle before purchasing it. Using virtual showrooms, customers can play with a 3D car configurator to choose from different colors, customize seats, and much more until they arrive at a final product they are completely happy with.
Virtual car showrooms are also helpful to manufacturers and retailers. Having a large variety of models in a physical showroom is expensive. Not only does it increase overhead costs, but unsold cars depreciate in value over time. Cars that have outdated features or an unpopular color can put dealers at a loss. With the help of VR, dealerships can manage inventory to meet the exact demand, and better anticipate client preferences.
AR Experience for Customers
In our previous article on AR in Retail, we pointed out how 40% of customers are willing to pay more for a product that is compatible with AR. The automotive industry is no exception. BMW has picked up on this insight and, as a result, has partnered with Accenture to create an AR app that allows their customers to see their future car models in augmented reality without having to leave their homes by simply downloading the app on to their phone. With this app, customers will be able to browse different models and customize them with different colors, interiors, and more.
Virtual Test Driving
Virtual test driving has proven as effective as having a virtual showroom in terms of communicating a driving experience and the overall uniqueness of a model. Certain cars, such as those produced by Jeep, stand out most when they are taken off-road and on to rough terrain, which they are designed to conquer. Virtual test driving allows drivers to experiment freely and without risk, while also saving dealers and manufacturers millions of dollars in test vehicles. With the help of virtual test driving, auto manufacturers like Infinity have already begun making investments into 360 videos, which allows prospective customers to experience driving their cars virtually.
What manufacturers like Infiniti are finding through creating these 360 car experiences is that they are helping customers make better-informed decisions faster than they would be when simply seeing the physical car in a showroom.
Use VR for Nostalgia
Nostalgia is an important marketing tool. The purpose of nostalgia is to remind people of what the brand is and how far it has come. It shows credibility and tells the story of a journey that the company took to get to the present moment. It allows patrons to form an emotional bond with the brand.
With the help of virtual reality, automotive brands can bring back some of that nostalgia for their patrons. Whether it’s the celebration of its heritage, highlighting a milestone, or the launching of a new project, with the help of VR customers can take a ride on a virtual time machine. Manufacturers can adopt this strategy by creating a 360 video that customers can access using their phones. Brands can go even further by having this VR experience at auto shows or opening up pop up booths in cities around the world.
“In order to empower a brand with nostalgia, brands can remain in the present using the past to compose a nice storytelling about the company or product. Even in a world that keeps on evolving, brands need to keep in mind what used to be “the trend” and switch it on again.”
Virtual Car Simulation
Simulators have already been used in pilot and astronaut training programs, so why should it be any different than driving a car? After all, it would be much safer to test out something in virtual reality than in real life. It is stated by Edgar Dale, an American educator, that 90% of the population are prompted to remember something through activities or simulations. Virtual simulators at a first glance can seem like something that will benefit the government or driver’s training facilities, but it can have a positive impact on car manufacturers as well. Using virtual simulators, companies can test out theories and market research.
For example, manufacturers can see what causes distraction through different arrangements on the control system, which can then help them adjust the layout to improve overall ergonomics for drivers. This improves road safety, and companies can use it as part of their corporate social responsibility, which in turn contributes to an increase in brand loyalty.
Using AR for Self Servicing
The great thing about augmented reality is that it allows users to interact with the real world using computer-supported graphics. For things that can be easily resolved without visiting a mechanic, manufacturers can provide this technology for self-service. It could be for more complicated tasks, like making sure that all of the wiring is properly configured under the hood, or simple ones like how to put windshield washer fluid in your new car. Even if it is something the customer can’t fix without going to the mechanic, patrons can also use AR to get an idea of what is wrong with the vehicle before taking it in. This will make the relationship between manufacturers and the customer more transparent.
Immersive technology in the automotive industry is still very new, but it holds a lot of potential. Automotive companies that make an investment into AR and VR will reap a long-lived competitive advantage. Now more than ever, with the rise of the sharing economy, car manufacturers will find it challenging to sell more vehicles. However, with immersive technologies like AR/VR, auto manufacturers can reduce costs, increase safety, and make the overall purchasing process a lot more customer-centric.