How Virtual Reality is Transforming Marketing


Discover how virtual reality reshapes consumer engagement and advertising and creates immersive customer experiences.

Virtual reality (VR), a term that once sounded like science fiction, is now a pivotal part of our digital era. Its conception dates back to 1935 when Stanley Weinbaum introduced the idea in his story “Pygmalion’s Spectacles,” where a character experiences an alternate reality through goggles. This blog delves into the transformative power of VR in the marketing landscape. By understanding its evolution and current applications, we can appreciate how VR marketing strategies reshape consumer engagement and advertising.

The Evolution of Virtual Reality

Modern style illustration and interpretation of virtual reality

The roots of VR can be traced to Sir Charles Wheatstone’s 1838 research on stereopsis, laying the groundwork for three-dimensional perception. However, Weinbaum’s 1935 story first envisioned a virtual experience​​. The journey from concept to reality began earnestly with Morton Heilig’s Sensorama in 1962, a multi-sensory machine that provided an immersive experience. Heilig also introduced the Telesphere Mask, the first head-mounted display (HMD) without motion tracking​​​​.

Headsight, developed by Philco Corporation engineers, introduced the first motion-tracking HMD, primarily for military purposes​​. This paved the way for Ivan Sutherland’s “Ultimate Display” concept in 1965, envisioning a world where virtual and physical realities are indistinguishable​​. The “Sword of Damocles,” Sutherland’s brainchild, was the first VR HMD connected to a computer, albeit primitive and cumbersome​​.

In the 1970s, Myron Krueger’s VIDEOPLACE, the first interactive VR platform, allowed users to interact within a virtual space without needing goggles or gloves. This marked a significant step towards modern VR experiences​​​​. The Aspen Movie Map from MIT, a precursor to Google Street View, demonstrated the potential of VR in simulating real-world environments​​.

Recent Advancements in Virtual Reality

People in a museum using VR AR goggles for a different experience

The term “virtual reality” gained popularity in the late 1980s, primarily due to Jaron Lanier and his company VPL Research. Lanier was instrumental in designing early business-grade VR hardware​​. By the late 1990s, VR found applications in architecture, with the University of North Carolina virtually modeling Sitterman Hall, a landmark moment for VR in design and planning​​.

Fast forward to 2023, VR technology is advancing exponentially, with its possibilities expanding across various industries, from gaming to medical training and engineering simulations​​. A significant focus has been placed on making VR more accessible. Developers are striving to overcome challenges like the expensiveness and bulkiness of VR headsets, making them lighter, more comfortable, and inclusive for people with disabilities. Microsoft’s SeeingVR project exemplifies this effort, aiming to make VR accessible to those with low vision or blindness​​.

Integration with AI and Machine Learning

VR is increasingly merging with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. This fusion enhances the realism and immersion of VR experiences. An example is the collaboration between HTC and Volkswagen, using HTC’s Vive Pro Eye headset in training scenarios, simulating real-world challenges for Volkswagen employees​​.

Advancements in Hardware

The VR hardware landscape is witnessing rapid evolution. Innovations include lighter headsets, more accurate motion tracking, and immersive haptic feedback. Notably, the development of brain-computer interfaces (BCIs) allows users to control VR experiences with their thoughts, presenting a groundbreaking shift in user interaction​​.

The Rise of Social VR

Social VR, where users interact in virtual environments, is gaining traction. It ranges from casual social spaces to structured events like concerts. Facebook Horizon, a social VR platform, exemplifies this trend, allowing users to create and interact in virtual worlds​​.

Key Players in the VR Industry

The VR industry is propelled by significant players investing in R&D to push the boundaries of VR technology. Companies like Facebook Technologies, LLC (Oculus) are at the forefront, introducing applications like XTADIUM on their Meta Quest platform, providing immersive sports experiences with high-quality VR footage​​.

Moreover, integrating VR into sectors like healthcare, real estate, education, automotive, and retail demonstrates its versatile applications. For instance, Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) and BMW use VR for early engineering and design reviews, while the U.K. government and NASA have utilised VR for training and interactive programs​​.

The fusion of VR with AI and machine learning is a notable trend, enhancing the demand for VR products and services. This integration facilitates more realistic and engaging experiences, significantly impacting the VR headset market’s growth, valued at USD 7.77 billion in 2022 and expected to grow substantially through 2030​​.

In this dynamic landscape, VR marketing strategies are evolving, with virtual reality advertising examples showcasing how brands can create immersive and memorable consumer experiences. The potential of VR in marketing is vast, offering innovative ways to engage and captivate audiences in a digitally-driven world.

How VR Creates Immersive Customer Experiences

A man using VR goggles with his view seen on a TV screen

VR technology offers an unparalleled level of immersion, making it a potent tool for engaging audiences. By simulating lifelike environments, VR allows users to interact with products or services in a way that traditional media cannot match. This immersive experience can significantly enhance emotional engagement, leading to a more memorable and impactful interaction with the brand.

Here are some examples:

The New York Times, a vanguard in merging journalism with technology, has adeptly used VR for storytelling. Their immersive news experiences transport readers into the story’s heart, offering a novel way to consume news and deepening the emotional connection with the content.

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) made a significant impact with their ‘Migraine Experience’ campaign. By using VR to simulate the debilitating effects of a migraine, GSK fostered empathy and understanding, offering a profound insight into the condition’s challenges.

Ikea’s ‘Ikea Place’ represents a revolution in home shopping. By enabling customers to place furniture in their homes virtually, the app has simplified the decision-making process and provided a fun, interactive way to experiment with home decor, blending utility with an engaging user experience.


Benefits of VR in Engaging Customers

A person exploring a new place virtually using AR VR goggles

The benefits of VR in marketing are manifold. It enhances the customer’s emotional connection to a brand, provides an engaging and interactive experience, and makes complex products or services more comprehensible. For instance, VR can simulate environments or experiences related to a product, giving customers a deeper understanding and appreciation.

However, the adoption of VR in marketing has its challenges. Developing unique VR experiences requires technical expertise, and creating shared experiences that resonate with diverse users can be complex. 

Despite these hurdles, VR offers significant advantages in marketing, from creating compelling content to organising virtual events and conducting market research. It allows customers to try products virtually, enhances marketing campaigns, improves customer service, and showcases the brand’s positive impact​​.

The Advantages of VR in Marketing

Two marketing experts discussing the use of VR at work

Virtual reality (VR) offers a suite of unique benefits in the marketing realm, enhancing customer engagement and delivering memorable experiences.

Optimised Shopping Experiences

VR transforms digital shopping into an immersive, interactive journey. It offers a one-on-one experience with customers, enabling businesses to showcase their brand identity and values in a novel way. By utilising VR, companies can replace traditional shopping methods with branded experiences, leveraging data from VR campaigns to refine the customer’s shopping journey further​​.

Personalised Buying Journey

Personalisation is critical in marketing, and VR takes this to a new level. It enables highly individualised advertising and marketing experiences, allowing brands to cater to the specific desires of different customer personas. This personalised approach ensures a more engaging and relevant experience for each user​​.

Authentic Brand Experience

As online shopping becomes commonplace, VR represents the next frontier in digital commerce. By embracing VR, businesses can distinguish themselves from competitors, offering unique, immersive experiences that resonate with their target audience​​.

Challenges and Considerations

While VR offers significant advantages, it also presents challenges and considerations that need careful navigation.

Trial and Error

Implementing VR in marketing involves a steep learning curve. It requires experimentation to discover the most effective ways to engage customers. Safety is a paramount concern in VR campaigns, as is the need to ensure that the VR experiences align with the brand’s values and mission​​.

Bad Public Relations (PR)

The novelty of VR technology can lead to misconceptions and negative publicity. The cost and availability of VR gadgets can be prohibitive, limiting its reach to a broader audience. Additionally, health concerns associated with VR, such as headaches and dizziness, must be addressed to foster positive public perception​​.

Cost and Technological Limitations

Implementing VR can be expensive, and the technology itself has limitations. Businesses must consider the investment required for VR hardware and software development.

Balancing Innovation and Accessibility

It’s crucial to balance the innovative aspects of VR with user accessibility. This includes designing VR experiences that are user-friendly and inclusive, catering to a wide range of abilities and preferences.

Ethical Implications

Responsible marketing in virtual environments involves considering the ethical implications of VR experiences. This includes ensuring that VR content is appropriate, respectful, and does not exploit users’ data or privacy.


Virtual reality (VR) is a futuristic concept and a present-day marketing powerhouse. Through VR marketing strategies, businesses can create deeply immersive and personalised customer experiences, revolutionising how brands interact with their audience. We’ve seen how examples of virtual reality advertising across various industries have successfully enhanced customer engagement and conveyed brand stories in compelling ways.

The transformative potential of VR in marketing is immense, offering a blend of creativity, innovation, and interaction that traditional methods cannot match. For brands looking to stay ahead of the curve, exploring the possibilities of VR is more than just an option—it’s a necessity in an ever-evolving digital landscape.

REBORN invites brands to embark on this exciting journey into VR marketing. With our expertise in digital strategy and a keen eye for innovation, we can help you unlock the full potential of VR, crafting experiences that resonate with your audience and set your brand apart. Embrace the future of marketing with us and discover how VR can revolutionise your brand’s story.