Key Consumer Sentiment Feedback About Retail VR
Consumer Technology Association (CTA)™ and National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE). The study, Consumer Sentiments: Virtual Reality In-Store Demonstration - VR Headset and Content, also finds consumers unfamiliar with VR need time and more information to better understand how the technology can positively impact their lives.
"Augmented and virtual reality are already changing our lives for the better - from delivering a remarkable, awe inspiring entertainment experience, to helping patients recover from physical and psychological trauma, too," said Brian Markwalter, Senior Vice President, research and standards, CTA. "And our study shows that consumers who try VR 'get it'. The VR products now on store shelves deliver a powerful experience, and what lies ahead will amaze us even more."
Among the other key findings from the CTA report on consumer sentiment:
- When describing VR, consumers focus on describing the experience rather than technical aspects, comparing it to movies and videogames or being inside an alternative reality.
- The current retail experience does not help consumers spontaneously discover VR, because displays are small, easy to miss and fail to showcase the "wow factor" of the VR experience.
- Most consumers prefer using VR in their home, though some are open to experiencing VR in a movie theater or theme park where the experience could be shared with friends and family.
- VR headsets are comfortable and create an impressive depth perception, adding to the immersive experience, though some consumers would prefer a wireless headset.
- Popular suggestions for VR content include lifestyle activities: travel, concerts and exercise.
The report makes three key recommendations to manufacturers:
1) Improve the quality and variety of VR content.
2) Include a product manual and/or directions to address consumers' most common concerns.
3) Address consumers' high expectations for VR to become sleeker, less expensive, easier to use, more social and more accessible.
Additionally, the report shows retailers would benefit by making VR products easier for new audiences to find and access, ensuring staff are very knowledgeable about the products and anticipate customers' questions, and incorporating the "wow factor" of the VR experience within related communications.
"Just as the entire VR product ecosystem is constantly innovating, manufacturers and retailers need to ensure they're regularly improving consumers' understanding and experiences with the technology," said Mark Turner, Vice President, Corporate Partnerships & Strategy, Technicolor; and chairman of CTA's AR/VR Working Group. "The report illustrates the importance of familiarizing our potential customers with the wonders of VR, not just putting them in front of the story, but actually getting consumers inside the experience across the entire spectrum of entertainment, advertising and gaming."
CTA's semi-annual industry report U.S. Consumer Technology Sales and Forecasts says VR headsets will be among the tech sector's overwhelming leaders in year-over-year growth in 2017, projecting U.S. sales to reach 2.5 million units (a 79 percent increase over 2016) and $660 million in revenues (43 percent increase).
CTA's AR/VR Working Group recently finalized a set of industry definitions to better explain the spectrum of experiences in this consumer technology category.