It’s important for businesses to know more about the rich market of virtual reality and its greatest potential customer- the avatar. Advertising as always targeted the alter-ego of the consumer. An incredible, popular, attractive person can emerge (with the help of the advertised product) from a regular person. Now that in virtual worlds people are building avatars based on their inner desires, marketers can segment, reach and influence them directly. In this article we will introduce 3 things you should know about marketing with avatars.
Innate Customer Profiles
Marketers could create profiles of potential customer segments based on information about users’ avatars. For instance, in creating an avatar, people choose from a wide range of elements such as accessories like pets, hairs, clothes, etc. Some of these elements could include branded items. These could be things like a Burberry Jacket, Adidas shoes or a Mercedes Benz parked in the background.
Encouraging avatars to equip real-world products could show that avatars would prefer Adidas shoes over Nike shoes or Golden Retrievers over Pugs. Marketers could assemble detailed profiles of those who are more likely to buy either product. Assuming that options for avatar wearables increase in the future, more complex and detailed profiles can be created.
Avatars could also be enlisted to play a marketing role. They could use their knowledge and sensibility of the virtual world to help design products with real-world potential. For instance, clothing designers in the Second Life virtual world were approached by real-world fashion brands. Equally interesting are the in-virtual world brands that developed by residents inside Second Life. There is a virtual economy growing as avatars are building brands and products to meet demands and real-world companies are tapping into. These avatar residents could run virtual-world stores selling real-world products or perhaps be even paid to publicize those same products.
Individualizing Specific Virtual Shopping Experiences
The amount of purchasing data that can be mined for marketing is immense. Every movement and purchase can be tracked and logged into a database. This behavioral information can be organized and processed immediately. For instance, an avatar clerk behind a counter would be able to easily answer an avatar’s questions before meeting as they would have been gathered and recorded into the database.
Moreover, this data could also help the clerk to adjust their behavior to become more appealing to the customer. Research at Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab found users were more influenced by avatars who mirror their own avatar’s movements and appearance. Using a simple computer script, the avatar clerk would be able to use this suggestive salesman trick to tailor all the customers’ traits to appear more friendly and persuasive. This could even become more empowered by digital technology as avatar clerks would modify not only their behavior but also appearance to mimic each avatar in the shop (at least through the eyes of each of those potential avatar customers). It is subliminal advertising powered by digital technology!
Hopefully these three points about marketing to avatars will be useful! As digital technology and popularity in virtual worlds continue to grow, so too will marketing and brand-building have ramifications in providing optimal experiences for residents in the digital space.
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