Brands Embrace The Virtual In Reality

AUSTIN, TEXAS: At least at South By Southwest Interactive (SXSWi), brands are embracing the virtual in reality. In fact, the media will hit $4 billion by the end of 2016. Soon, software will surpass hardware to support the media, per Stephanie Llamas, director of research and insights, Superdata Research.

VR will change the way consumers interact with products -- faster than in the past 20 years, according to Victor Lee, SVP of digital marketing, Hasbro, who noted two decades of change at OMMA SXSW at SXSWi.

Hasbro, focusing on games for children, let their imaginations run wild. "We're tapping that place in their brain that makes it feel possible," Lee said.

Lee said VR also will change retail, allowing consumers to shop from the comforts of home through a hologram or VR image. 

One of the first paths to VR for Eric Oliver, director, digital marketing at The North Face, happened at the Stanford Virtual Reality Lab in a room built to monitor human response to simulations. In the simulation, he froze on a plank laid across a valley of nails. It's a powerful media to transport someone to another place, he said, with the purpose of consumers becoming part of the experience. 



More than 50 teams of athletes -- experts in their fields -- work together to create virtual reality experiences to help consumers experience what they love, from hiking to skydiving.

For Lufthansa, that connection combines virtual with reality to build consumer relationships. The airline has begun using VR content in Rio, Berlin and other locations. That lets consumers to demonstrate destinations, Torsten Wingenter, head of digital innovations at Lufthansa German Airlines, told attendees.

Lufthansa released an Android app in early March that allows consumers to log onto the company's YouTube page with a Google Cardboard player and experience a variety of destinations in VR. 

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