With a growing need to understand consumers and predict their behaviors, market research (MR) is big business. Even with record inflation, the MR industry isn’t slowing down a lick; it’s growing at unprecedented rates. The global forecast shows that MR is expected to reach nearly $109 billion in 2026 at a growth rate of over 7%. While research is becoming a budget line for many brands, it’s also changing with the times. Traditional market research methods can be time-consuming, costly, and limited in their ability to provide a complete understanding of consumer behavior. This is where virtual and augmented reality (VR/AR) come into play. In this blog post, we will explore how new technology, like VR/AR, can transform the field of market research and shape the future of consumer insights.

Virtual and Augmented Reality

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is a simulated experience that can be similar to or completely different from the real world. VR technology creates a 3D environment that users can explore and interact with. In market research, VR can be used to create virtual environments that simulate real-world situations and allow researchers to observe consumer behavior in a controlled and repeatable setting.

One of the most significant advantages of VR in market research is the ability to create a more immersive and engaging experience for consumers. For example, a company can use VR to create a virtual store where consumers can interact with products and make purchasing decisions. Researchers can then observe consumer behavior and gather data on purchasing habits, product preferences, and customer satisfaction. The retail industry is expected to spend $19 billion on VR by 2030.

Another advantage of VR in market research is the ability to test products and concepts in a more controlled environment. Companies can use VR to simulate product prototypes and gather consumer feedback before investing in expensive manufacturing and distribution.

Augmented Reality in Market Research

Augmented reality is a technology that overlays digital information in the real world. AR can be used to enhance the consumer experience by providing additional information about products, services, or brands. In market research, AR can be used to gather data on consumer behavior and preferences in real-time.

For example, a company can use AR to create an interactive display in a physical store that provides consumers with additional product information and recommendations. Researchers can then gather data on consumer interactions with the display, including how long they spend engaging with the content and how they respond to specific messages. 71% of customers say they would shop more often if they used AR and could try products before purchasing them. 

Another advantage of AR in market research is the ability to gather data on consumer behavior in real-world settings. Researchers can observe consumer behavior in a more natural and organic setting by overlaying digital information in the real world. This can provide valuable insights into how consumers interact with products and brands daily.

Other Uses For AR/MR

Virtual and augmented reality  can be used in a variety of ways to conduct market research, including:

  • Concept testing: VR/AR can be used to test new concepts, such as branding, packaging, and advertising. This can help companies determine which concepts resonate most with their target audience and make more informed decisions about how to position their brand.
  • Consumer feedback: VR/AR can be used to gather feedback from consumers in real-time. For example, a company can use AR to overlay a survey onto a physical product, allowing consumers to provide feedback on the spot. This can help companies gather more accurate and immediate feedback, improving the overall customer experience.
  • Market analysis: Virtual and augmented reality can be used to create visual representations of market data, such as sales trends or consumer demographics. This can help companies better understand the market and identify potential opportunities.

The Future of Market Research

The adoption of VR/AR technology in market research is still in its early stages, but the potential benefits are significant. By providing a more immersive and engaging experience for consumers, VR/AR can gather more accurate and detailed data in real-time. This can lead to a more complete understanding of consumer behavior, preferences, and habits.

As VR/AR technology evolves, it will become more accessible and affordable for businesses of all sizes. This will enable more companies to use VR/AR in market research, leading to a more competitive and innovative business landscape. 

Beyond VR and AR, there are other exciting advancements in technology that will directly affect MR.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

Another technological wave that will revolutionize market research is generative AI. AI tools like ChatGPT. ChatGPT’s impressive natural language processing capabilities can assist market researchers in analyzing the language used by community members in discussions, surveys, and other interactions, saving both time and money. 

ChatGPT can also find common themes, sentiments, and patterns in data sets and offer suggestions for marketing campaigns and product offerings. 

Lastly, AI tools can produce automated answers to frequently asked questions, reducing market researchers’ workload.

Bottom Line

In conclusion, the future of market research is inextricably linked to the evolution of VR/AR and AI technology. As consumers become more accustomed to immersive and engaging experiences, businesses must adapt and innovate to stay competitive. By leveraging the power of these new technologies, companies can better understand consumer behavior and preferences, leading to more informed decision-making and increased market share.

At Fuel Cycle, we’re empowering Market Researchers to achieve more with less and helping them gain a competitive advantage by understanding customer behavior and preferences in an ever-changing world. Click here to learn more about our comprehensive MR solutions and tools.