NEW YORK: Findings from a survey by B/HI and Listen Research have reinforced a growing body of evidence that the hype about virtual reality is real – while adding to the craze itself.
Partnering with creative content agency Hiker, B/HI and Listen released a 360-degree infographic available on YouTube to complement their research.
The study, which polled millennial and more mature gamers on holiday consumer behavior, found they are willing to shell out big money for a VR device. Although sixty percent of those surveyed said cost is their biggest concern, two-thirds said they plan to buy a VR device in the next three months. They expected to spend $500 on average. More than four in 10 expected to pay more than $500 for a VR device.
Other concerns about VR include motion sickness (39%), spreading germs (41%), and their own appearance wearing a device (42%). Gamers are also more likely to purchase a VR device for themselves (74%) than receive one as a holiday gift (60%), the survey found.
The survey, deployed in June, sampled 300 respondents.
One goal of the Hiker-produced project is to engage audiences with a deeper experience than the more familiar 2D infographic, a format some critics say is dying.
"Within a short attention span, the infographic was an opportunity to supplement what we learned," said Dean Bender, cofounder and president of B/HI. "[Readers] may not dive into the full study, but they will look at this infographic, which supported our findings and hypothesis."
The agency, formerly known as Bender/Helper Impact, rebranded earlier this year after cofounder Lee Helper exited to pursue other entrepreneurial opportunities.
Bender said he and his team set out to challenge preconceptions — to see if they were guilty of drinking the "industry Kool-Aid" – about VR. However, their insights largely matched the general consensus: consumers have responded to virtual reality with a "resounding yes, to the tune of $500."
B/HI’s relationship with Hiker goes back several years, to when Mimi Fernandez, director of business development at B/HI, introduced the two agencies. She first became acquainted with Hiker, and principal Gregor Clark, when she worked at the American Lung Association from 2002 to 2006 as director of its national headquarters.
"An infographic is not as immersive as a narrative experience," Clark said. "If we’re going to talk about this medium, let’s talk about it in the medium. This gives audiences an easy, initial peek into what this world means as a viewer. What we asked ourselves was, ‘Can this space work for sharing information and not just gaming?’"
VR infographic possibilities abound, especially considering Google 360 video’s ability to deliver to a wide audience, Clark pointed out. In a LinkedIn blog, he introduced several possibilities, such as an ocean health VR infographic that appears to take place underwater, with fish swimming by, or learning about Asian economic trends surrounded by the virtual buildings of Hong Kong’s financial district.
"With the right partner, anything is possible, and viewer engagement can move to entirely new levels," he wrote.
Clark added that he picked up several lessons. Because viewers are in control of the experience, designers must create non-linear storytelling that functions "in completely opposite directions." They also must consider factors such as time, the low resolution, and several other technical details.
Bender said B/HI will use VR to pitch its services, as long as it doesn’t "abuse the privilege" and it makes sense for clients.
"Without a doubt, this helps enhance our position," he added. "It takes a 2D relationship into a 3D one. It differentiates us from the competition and elevates us to a great extent."