Virtual reality (VR) has gone beyond its gaming and entertainment roots. The most current virtual reality trends show the technology being applied across various industries, including healthcare, education, entertainment, tourism, and business institutions. But more importantly, key players in the industry, especially in the marketing sector, are still exploring ways to tap into the immense potential of VR technology.
VR technology helps businesses improve their operations. Field employees get to virtually experience life-like scenarios to accomplish tasks. Consumers, meanwhile, experience entertainment on another level and get to have more accurate material for product reviews. Surely, you can’t afford not to know what’s happening in this field if you’re into business one way or another. In this article, we present the latest virtual reality industry trends from this technology’s role in gaming and corporate LMS to its use in travel and retail, as well as how the future is shaping for this unique industry given the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Some parts of the world are gradually embracing the business opportunities that VR technology presents. However, several hurdles are hindering smooth VR technology adoption (YouGov, 2019). Because of ongoing concerns on performance issues and technical limitations, user experience comes as the top obstacle for many when thinking about using virtual reality products.
Source: Perkinscoie (2019)
Specific figures in virtual reality market trends show that the technology has not yet reached a mature stage. Factors like costs, accessibility, and safety keep many businesses hesitant to fully commit to VR technology. Nonetheless, they don’t stop how virtual reality latest trends could reshape many industries.
There are about 42.9 million people in the United States using VR in 2019. This represents about 13% of the entire US population. Globally, the VR software and hardware market size was valued at $2.6 billion in 2020. This is predicted to grow to $5.1 billion by 2023 (SuperData, 2020). Considering these figures, the future of virtual reality is encouraging for businesses and consumers alike (The Boss Magazine). In the following sections, we’ll take a more detailed look into where this technology currently stands.
1. VR in the retail sector
Some businesses have started applying VR into their training systems. In the retail landscape, for instance, VR technology allows staff to immerse themselves in a virtual environment where they need to manage long queues or shoppers crowding the store. This eliminates the need to disturb daily business operations to train the entire team.
Walmart applied this technique to prepare their employees for Black Friday shoppers. The company has partnered with VR creator Stivr, which also helped train NFL players through VR technology. Walmart subjected its employees to a simulation of real-world scenarios. Employees were then asked to make choices based on what they saw in the scenes created by the computer-generated vision.
The goal of VR in training is to map scenes and prepare employees to deal with situations like the holiday rush or handling unexpected issues prevalent in the retail sector. Overall, there are 57.4 million users of VR in the US (eMarketer, 2020) and a good chunk of it is used for the retail sector (9.5 million as of 2020). However, a study predicts that the total number of VR users in the retail sector will reach 31.5 million by 2025 (Statista, 2016).
Aside from retail staff training, VR will also be used to improve and streamline customers’ online shopping experience. While AR (augmented reality) in the form of AR-powered virtual fitting rooms have been around a while, VR is predicted to penetrate the industry by facilitating virtual stores (PYMNTS, 2019).
A challenge for the retail sector lies in the cost of VR technology. The use of budgeting software platforms can determine if such technology can prove beneficial to businesses. As a strategy, business owners are limiting the number of people who get to use VR headsets, while the rest would watch on a flat-screen monitor.
- With the use of VR technology, retail companies can prepare their employees for real-life situations that are virtually generated.
- By 2025, the number of VR users in the retail sector will reach 31.5 million.
- The cost of VR technology remains a challenge for most retail owners.
2. VR in remote education
Education is among the sectors that are anticipated to employ immersive technology such as learning management solutions and VR (Perkins Coie, 2020). According to Koch’s website, the application of VR technology to education produced training score improvements from pre- to post-test by up to 20%. Through the use of VR technology in the classroom, learning becomes more fun and engaging and helps students have something to look forward to in class. Moreover, as the education sector is one of the most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the use of VR may even accelerate as it can help students experience their lessons through their own eyes without the need for face-to-face classroom learning.
Google Expeditions now allow students to take history lessons with a virtual visit to the Louvre museum, and they can even roam with dinosaurs and experience Mount Everest. Health, aerospace, and technology are also the focus of most VR creators in the education sector, like Discovery Education, the leading producer of VR field trips.
VR is also proving to be extremely useful in military and pilot training. For several years now, young soldiers and pilot training institutions experience training in the form of VR simulations. The technology, along with the best eLearning software, helps soldiers prepare for unexpected situations in the field.
- There is a 20% training score improvement produced by VR technology when applied to education.
- Several VR companies allow students to have a virtual experience of the lessons in class.
- VR technology generates simulations for military and pilot training institutions.
Top LMS Software
- Edmodo. A powerful social learning solution that supports online discussions and poll management for schools, teachers, and students. Read our Edmodo review to find out more about this product.
- Schoology. An innovative learning management system that supports collaborative learning through online courses. Our Schoology review provides in-depth details about its capability.
- Mindflash. A cloud-based LMS software built to simplify corporate learning and help companies monitor spending on employee training. Find out more about this product in our Mindflash review.
- Canvas LMS. An open-source LMS system that creates an engaging learning environment for both learners and teachers. Our Canvas LMS review reveals details about the product’s capability.
- Coassemble. A web-hosted corporate learning management system built to help organizations train employees with ease. To find out more about this product, read our Coassemble review.
3. VR in native advertising
Advertising is another sector where immersive technology such as VR is expected to grow exponentially (Perkins Coie, 2020). Further advancements in VR technology will soon allow developers to add branded placements to virtual experiences. This type of native advertising first appeared as in-game advertising. As VR technology becomes more advanced, VR experiences can soon incorporate native advertising that is demographically relevant to individual consumers.
These virtual reality future trends point to marketing and advertising in VR space. As brands partner with content developers, they can come up with sensational VR experiences, with their products as the center of it. The ad-tech startup Immersv, for example, raised about $10.5 million for 360-degree videos, games, and virtual reality ads. Similarly, Google is running VR ad experiments in its Area 120 workshop.
- Brands can soon incorporate native advertising across VR content.
- Advancements in VR technology will give way to sensational VR advertisements for various products.
4. Enhancements in VR technology
Consumer VR technology, particularly VR headsets, first hit the market in 2016. However, the VR hardware sector is yet to see large-scale enhancements mainly due to the high costs and shortage of components. Fortunately, it seems to be picking up pace again, especially in the gaming sector (The Motley Fool, 2020).
VR’s early days revolved around 360-pixel videos, resulting in a limited impact on users. These days, however, 5k and 8k stereoscopic videos are empowering VR technology with much-improved quality. The Chinese virtual reality company Pimax is now offering VR headsets capable of 5k and 8k virtual reality experience, with experts predicting that more VR companies will follow.
Another breakthrough in VR technology is its capability for eye tracking. It’s still in its early development, and VR producer Pimax is working on releasing an eye-tracking module for their 8k and 5k headsets. VR headsets with eye-tracking would be able to apply more computational power on where the user is looking at. The technology comes in handy for displaying complex virtual scenes.
- The introduction of 5k and 8k stereoscopic videos are giving much-improved quality to VR technology.
- VR companies are exploring the eye-tracking capabilities of VR headsets.
5. Cheaper VR models
In terms of sales growth, VR came off slowly but is improving today as cheaper virtual reality products enter the market. According to Superdata’s report, there is a 30% year-over-year increase in the revenues of VR companies. In 2018, VR revenues reached $3.6 billion. Sony’s Playstation VR is leading the VR market with 700,000 units sold. This figure is the largest number in any category of headsets for sale in the market. Meanwhile, the standalone Oculus Go sold 550,000 units, whereas the PC-tethered Oculus Rift sold 160,000 units.
The cost of VR is the main challenge that consumers face. It can partly be blamed for why VR technology is failing its sky-high user expectations. When Oculus Rift first entered the market in 2017, it was at $599, and buyers still needed to find a compatible PC that could meet its hardware requirements, which cost about $1,200.
Today, however, Oculus and other companies are introducing new models at much lower costs. The lower prices of these VR models are, in turn, sparking consumer interest. An example of this is the Oculus Go. First launched in 2017, it costs $199, allowing users to have a full VR experience. Other models, like Google’s Daydream, are offering a smartphone-based VR experience for just $50. If you want to go even lower, Google Cardboard is by far the cheapest there is, offering a considerable VR experience for only $20.
- Cheaper VR models are sparking consumer interest in the technology.
- Stand-alone VR headsets like Oculus Go are offering users a full virtual experience at lower prices.
6. Gaming with VR
The VR software market owes 43% of its value to the gaming sector. It’s no surprise then that the gaming sector remains highly invested in the VR market. In fact, VR gaming revenue is currently valued at $1.1 billion and is expected to grow to $2.4 billion by 2024 (PwC, 2020). VR in gaming provides users the ability to control and modify the game environment. But as the same technology becomes more prominent in other sectors, the gaming sector’s share in the market will decrease in the coming years, according to experts.
You can find the most successful implementations of VR in the gaming sector. New and improved virtual reality gaming trends and content keeps hitting the market as VR-enabled games become more in demand. With VR headsets like Oculus Rift, gamers get to experience 3D creatures in an advanced virtual environment. Thus, the battle for introducing the most sophisticated VR wearables and input devices are also becoming the focus of many VR developers.
The increased demand in VR games is leading to more job postings in the gaming sector as well. From 2017 to 2018, job postings grew by up to 17%. These job openings include positions for game producers, designers, artists, and programmers. Business, sales, and marketing roles are also in demand in the gaming sector.
- The VR software market owes 43% of its value to the gaming sector.
- The increasing demand for VR-enabled games is giving rise to new and improved VR content.
7. VR in the travel sector
Travel companies are adopting VR technology as part of their marketing strategies. A growing number of companies are reaping the benefits of VR headsets that provide better customer service and experience. The technology gives travel agents, hotels, and similar businesses in the travel sector more opportunities to deliver a lifelike experience of the services that they offer.
Implementing VR could be one of the best customer service tips anywhere. In recent data published by GlobalWebIndex, 40% of Gen Zers want to see more travel applications through VR technology (Global Web Index, 2019). This shows a promising sign for VR to propel travel marketing campaigns to new heights. As VR offers customers the chance to preview destinations before booking, travel companies experience an uplift in bookings.
Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has opened the door of opportunity for VR tourism to take off. Rather than just being a marketing gimmick, VR may just serve as ‘alternative travel’ while tourists cannot freely travel yet. VR is also predicted to play a vital role in the travel sector post-pandemic (BBC News, 2020).
Source: GlobalWebIndex (2019)
- Travel companies are starting to incorporate VR in their marketing strategies.
- About 40% of Gen Zers want to see more travel applications via VR technology.
Virtual Reality in the Modern World
The preceding trends strongly indicate that VR will be here for the long-haul, and the COVID-19 pandemic may just as well be a catalyst for its unstoppable growth. The technology poses a wealth of opportunities that businesses have not even fully explored yet. VR technology is already paving the next path to learning and professional development. The keen interest in VR technology should see more new trends in the future.
Leveraging technology like VR can get you ahead of your competitors, so make sure to always measure the success of your strategies and know where you stand among your rivals. For this, analytics solutions help a lot. You can check out the best sales analytics platforms available in the market today.
- Beer, C. (2019). Why the Travel Industry Could be Key to Unlock VR’s Potential. Retrieved from Global Web Index
- Perkins Coie (2020). 2020 Augmented and Virtual Reality Survey Report. Retrieved from Perkins Coie
- Petrock, V. (2020). US Virual and Augmented Reality Users 2020. Retrieved from eMarketer
- PwC (2020). Outlook segment findings. Retrieved from PwC
- PYMNTS (2019). Virtual Reality in Retail: 2019 and Beyond. Retrieved from PYMNTS
- Statista (2016). Forecast user base of the augmented and virtual reality (VR) software market worldwide in 2020 and 2025, by segment. Retrieved from Statista
- SuperData (2020). Consumer virtual reality (VR) hardware and software market revenue worldwide from 2016 to 2023. Retrieved from Statista
- The Boss Magazine (n.d.). What to expect from VR in the next 30 years. Retrieved from The Boss Magazine
By Astrid Eira
Astrid Eira is a resident B2B expert of FinancesOnline, focusing on the SaaS niche. She specializes in accounting and human resource management software, writing honest and straightforward reviews of some of the most popular systems around. Being a small business owner herself, Astrid uses her expertise to help educate business owners and entrepreneurs on how new technology can help them run their operations. She’s an avid fan of the outdoors, where you’ll find her when she’s not crunching numbers or testing out new software.