Virtual Reality will become a reality for brands.

virtual_reality_Samsung’s $99 Gear VR was recently released, and the consumer launch of the Oculus Rift is just a page flip of the calendar away. As Hollywood, Silicon Valley, and some of today’s biggest brands start diving into VR mania, the question we’re asking ourselves is if VR will finally emerge as a major new entertainment, marketing, and computing platform in 2016.

The immersive social and digital worlds of virtual reality promise new experiences and applications, many of which haven’t even been imagined yet. The looming decision for brands in 2016 is whether they begin shifting their focus to VR by adding budget and people-power to this burgeoning opportunity or use this period to listen, learn, and then strike when the right moment hits. There will surely be some first-mover advantage as we have seen with other new platforms (e.g., GE and other brands jumping on Instagram early), which will certainly keep some CMOs up at night.

Brands are still figuring out their mobile strategies and learning what it means to market in a digital world, and VR adds yet another layer of complexity. The questions every marketer needs to be thinking about right now are:

  • How will VR affect my brand marketing, advertising, content production, and user-experience design?
  • What’s the best way to prepare for VR?
  • Is first to market worth the cost and potential pitfalls — or is not being recognized as a trailblazer just as costly?
  • Who will brands partner with to create experiences? Startups or bigger players? Fast-moving startups may have the innovation upper hand to break new ground.

These answers will surely begin to surface over the next year, but one thing is for certain — VR must be on the minds of today’s CMOs so they can be best prepared to choose the right path for their brands in the future.

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