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Use of virtual reality reaches tipping point

The use of virtual reality headsets is reaching a tipping point with increased opportunities for brands to exploit their growing popularity, according to new research published by ClickZ and Toluna.

A poll of consumers in the United States has found that more than a third (37%) have now used either their own or someone else’s VR headset, almost double the equivalent figure of 19% in the UK.

The survey of 1,000 US and 1,000 UK consumers was carried out by ClickZ Intelligence using Toluna software, the world’s leading provider of real-time digital consumer insights.

Of those US consumers who have used a VR headset, the most common drivers of usage were for gaming (55%), watching a film (42%), and experiencing adrenaline sport or a holiday destination (both 31%). Gaming and watching films were also the most common VR activities for UK consumers, cited by 44% and 32% of respondents respectively.

As the chart below shows, a significant proportion of US consumers had also used VR headsets for visiting a car show room or test-driving a car (27%), visualizing a home or property (also 27%) or visiting a college campus (25%).


If the opportunity presented itself in the future, more than half of US consumers said they were ‘very’ or ‘quite’ likely to use VR to visualize a home or visit a property (61%), watch a film (60%) or experience a holiday destination (55%).


Just over a fifth of US consumers surveyed said they had used VR headsets for cybersex (22%), more than twice the proportion as in the UK (10%).

For those who haven’t experienced VR usage, the main reason cited by both US and UK consumers was that they hadn’t come across it, cited by 34% and 36% of respondents respectively. Concerns about ill effects remain an issue for the VR industry, with 10% citing the worry of ‘feeling dizzy’ as a reason for not embracing this technology.


The research suggests that there is an excellent opportunity for brands to harness virtual reality technology to engage with consumers. Pioneers in this area include tequila brand Patrón which used a drone to film a virtual tour of its tequila distillery from the perspective of a bee.

Marriott has also used the technology to help soon-to-be-married couples to experience virtual honeymoons in destinations such as Hawaii.

The same ClickZ Intelligence / Toluna survey, carried out in August five weeks after the launch of Pokémon Go, also covered the uptake of augmented reality apps.

Mark Simon, Managing Director, North America, and Managing Director, Toluna Digital, said:

Consumer sentiment and technology usage continues to converge. Applications such as Virtual Reality offer brands a truly unique and immersive way to garner strong customer interest and engagement for their offerings and services.

Surveying how and why buyers use technology to ‘try out’ the latest fashions, ‘experience’ the interior of a new car or ‘explore’ vacation destinations can help marketers be more responsive to their most tech savvy purchasers.”

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