Looking into the future: using virtual reality to promote car sales

Regardless of whether customers are considering a new, customized car or a factory building, brochures and configurators are often no longer enough to convince them to make a purchase. Customers need help making their decision, especially when it comes to major financial investments and complex products. Virtual reality (VR) can provide assistance.

In the elaboratum study “Virtual reality in (online) retail” (“Virtual Reality im (Online-)Handel”), more than half of those surveyed (54 percent) said that virtual reality (VR) could help them to get a better idea of a desired product. Moreover, 50 percent believed that virtual shopping aids could simplify purchase decisions. And 39 percent were convinced that relevant technologies could directly impact their purchase decision.

Using virtual reality to establish bonds between customers and car brands more quickly

The automotive industry in particular can take advantage of the potential presented by virtual reality, especially in light of the fact that vehicles are increasingly being manufactured to customer specifications, meaning that providing decision-making aids at the various touchpoints is becoming more and more important. Even before their car is built, customers can use the opportunities presented by virtual reality in pop-up stores or at trade fairs to go on virtual test drives or to interactively explore the car’s inner furnishings or the storage space inside the trunk. Moreover, using a VR Cardboard, they can also experience the configuration of the vehicle in vivid 3D detail online – providing car manufacturers with an opportunity to establish an emotional bond between the customer and the product and to provide a successful brand experience. Initial field trials at car companies have already shown that virtual tours trigger a highly emotional response in young people in particular, and that virtual reality can have a significant positive impact on their purchase decisions.

Leveraging the synergies of virtual reality applications

Many automotive groups are already putting their trust in virtual reality when it comes to marketing and sales. The task is now to place VR applications on firm technical footing, so that, for example, consumers can successfully experience virtual reality at home using their own VR headsets, which are less powerful. Consequently, it is important that experts optimize 3D data for different VR devices.

Modularized software architecture that can be used to combine different scenarios for each of the touchpoints is needed to specifically prepare vehicle data for VR-compatible applications. After all, even though customers use different applications, they are all based on the same common technical features. For this reason, it makes sense to leverage the technological synergies within a group – going beyond individual departments. For example, VR applications in marketing are often good at visualizing vehicles, while manufacturing VR is better at simulating accidents. If the automotive industry encourages marketing, sales and other departments such as vehicle construction to exchange knowledge about virtual reality internally, it will lead to improvements in VR applications.

New technologies that improve virtual reality are currently being launched on the market nearly every week. Lufthansa Industry Solutions helps automotive groups, their suppliers and other industries to choose VR technologies, to develop VR applications and to establish modularized virtual reality software architectures, by combining our years of industry experience with our technological expertise.