Among the more poignant indications of VR’s anticipated consumer appeal is a new study conducted by online research firm Touchstone Research and leading American business intelligence firm Greenlight VR.
The companies’ first-ever comprehensive VR Consumer Report finds that today’s tech-savvy kids and teens – who have been labeled Generation Z – are most likely to embrace virtual reality when it becomes readily available, with 79% of those surveyed saying they “love/like” VR.
After Gen Z, Millennials feel the most positive toward VR, with 73% saying they “love” it.
The report, which surveyed 2,282 US kids ages 10 to 17, as well as adults 18 and up, also revealed that of those interested in virtual reality TV, movie and video content, most will seek sci-fi and action experiences.
Disney and Google are already zeroing in on these two demographics most excited by VR. Disney’s new partnership with Google and Verizon has launched a serialized Star Wars virtual reality experience for Google’s low-cost Cardboard VR platform via the official Star Wars app that connects to the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Meanwhile, toyco Mattel is betting on nostalgia-driven parents and their young progeny to purchase its new View Master VR Viewer. Launched in October for US$29.99, the TIA Toy of the Year finalist also uses Google’s Cardboard technology and works by combining an app with an experience reel.
Although it’s too early to measure the impact of affordable, smartphone-connected VR experiences on people’s decisions to invest in more expensive HMDs (head mounted displays) like next year’s Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR, the fact that the US$99 consumer edition of Samsung’s Gear VR continues to be “temporarily out of stock” and “sold out online” at Amazon and Best Buy, respectively, since its November launch bodes well for the future of the VR industry.
With a new report from digital games research company SuperData finding that the mobile and experimental VR market could bring in US$15.9 billion in combined hardware sales by 2019, we are undoubtedly on the cusp of something much bigger than imagined. Which means some serious considerations based on the findings from the Touchstone Research report must be taken into account:
How much is too much?
With all the promise of affordable VR products, Touchstone’s report revealed that 60% of respondents who are concerned about VR being too expensive say they would not pay more than US$400 for an HMD—bad news for Facebook’s Oculus Rift CV1 and its initial estimated US$1,500 price tag.
On the plus side for manufacturers of higher-end platforms, 31% of those respondents worried about cost say they would pay between US$200 and US$399.
Millennials and Generation-Xers also reported that they would be willing to pay a maximum of US$524/US$526 on average for a VR headset.
Battle of the brands
As far as brand awareness goes, the landscape has shifted slightly since Touchstone’s first VR report in July. At that time, kids surveyed said they were most aware of Oculus and Samsung Gear VR, followed by Sony’s Project Morpheus (now PlayStation VR) and Google Cardboard.
In Touchstone’s new consumer research, Sony’s PlayStation VR was tops in unaided brand awareness with Samsung Gear VR second and Oculus third. However, only 20% said there is a particular VR brand in which they are interested, and of this group, no clear advantage was given to Sony, Oculus or Samsung. In fact, only 10% of respondents said they know a lot about the VR industry, meaning brands have big opportunities to improve their marketing strategies and boost awareness.
For those surveyed, price, quality, durability, content (quality), ease of use and content type are the top six-ranked factors when it comes to making purchasing decision. And between 36% and 41% of respondents said prior exposure to VR (try-before-you-buy demos, personal research) is extremely important to their purchasing decisions.
Exploring the space
When asked what they most want to do in virtual reality, 37% of those surveyed said they would be interested in travel and exploration activities. Gaming was the second most popular response (33%), followed by shopping (10%), virtual learning (5%) and movies/TV (4%).
For both Generation Z and Millennials, gaming is the most popular “to do” VR activity, while Gen X and Baby Boomers are most interested in travel. And among those surveyed who are currently gamers, 80% said they want to try games in VR, with racing games piquing their interest the most (49%) followed by action (40%) and sports (39%).
Gamers also said they are most likely to purchase a VR device connected to a gaming console over a PC or mobile device, which puts Sony in a great position, considering the PS4 recently surpassed 30.2 million units sold worldwide, and according to Touchstone, half of the console’s users will consider VR in 2016.
Check out the full Touchstone infographic below: