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Alternative realities are big right now. The success of Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One blockbuster – about a guy whose exploits in a virtual online game win him fame and fortune – shows the idea of “VR” still seduces even now we can build our own headset by folding up a bit of cardboard.

VR is always exciting not just because it’s the ultimate fantasy factory. It’s always seemed tantalisingly near – just one more step into the future. With commercial VR a reality, fully immersive gaming environments like Ready Player One’s OASIS may only be a few steps away.

Marketers can’t wait. What they may not realise is they don’t entirely have to wait. On the store-level scale shopper marketing requires, fully immersive artificial realities are already possible, practical and effective.

Of course, if marketers don’t know this, it’s not all that surprising. They’ve experienced full immersion at conferences and trade shows just like so many others, only to find that the “virtual environment” they’re expected to use for shopper insight is more PS1 than Ready Player One – crude first-person videogame style stores which look like a demo for Resident Evil: Wal-Mart.

Our upcoming webinar, It’s Not A Game, looks at the practicalities of fully immersive shopper research, and will demonstrate that it works and it’s affordable for shopper marketers who need to test activations at shelf. We’d love you to register

In this post, though, we ask a more fundamental question: why does it matter that shopper VR is fully immersive?

The answer is simple. Shopper marketing is about moments of truth – zeroth, oneth, whichever you  believe in, the store is where it happens. Everything else marketers study involves an element of projection. Branding asks people about abstractions. Innovation work needs them to think about the future a little. Communications work is about stimuli in isolation. Surveys that create a predictive proxy for decision making are great for those problems. But shopper needs more.

The shopper marketer needs to get as close to the decision as they can in order to influence it. So context matters even more. It matters enough, in fact, that building a fully immersive environment is the best way to get it.

Find out more about Shopper Marketing here

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