SAN FRANCISCO: It may be an emerging platform that has yet to hit the mainstream but new research suggests that brands ought to be thinking about developing a virtual reality (VR) strategy to take advantage of potentially significant uplifts in brand metrics.

Greenlight VR, a market intelligence firm focused on this area, surveyed 1,300 people in the US and found that interest in VR goes beyond gaming, where it has one of its most immediately obvious applications.

Fully 71% of respondents felt that VR made brands seem "forward-thinking and modern", while 63% said they would feel engaged with a brand that sponsored a VR experience; and 52% agreed they would like to be associated with such a brand.

Nor was the impact limited to brand affinity metrics: over half (53%) said they would be more likely to purchase from a brand that uses VR than from one that doesn't.

"We're seeing specific VR activities have unique emotional footprints, offering fascinating insights for those who are considering their VR strategies," said Steve Marshall, SVP/research and consulting at Greenlight VR.

"For example, among our sample, watching a live broadcast event in virtual reality generates significantly higher ratings of positive emotions such as 'happy' and 'energetic' when compared with playing a VR video game."

Those emotions extended even to those people who have yet to experience VR, as Greenlight reported that 91% of non-users had positive feelings after being exposed to informational videos.

These ranged from interest (65%) through amazement (58%) and excitement (49%) at the upper end of the scale to surprise (32%), happiness (25%) and energy (19%) at the lower end.

Consumers appear to be more receptive to some categories than others when it comes to advertising and marketing using VR.

They showed most interest in travel and adventure (59%) followed by home renovation (49%). Health and medical (39%) and automotive (38%) also registered fairly highly, while the 29% who would like to see VR in the advertising of financial services was more of a surprise.

"If the recent success of Pokémon Go isn't enough," said Clifton Dawson, CEO of Greenlight VR, "this data provides concrete evidence to experience marketers who are currently designing for the new experience economy."

Data sourced from Greenlight VR; additional content by Warc staff