Have you ever regretted buying something? I would be surprised if the answer was no. We all have experienced “buyer’s remorse” at least once in our lives.
The classic advice to avoid a bad purchase goes something like this: “Can you see yourself using it, or wearing it?” You know—close your eyes and picture yourself in that new car, new outfit, new home, new shoes? Visualize your experience with whatever it is that you wish to buy. Well, this technique might work for some, but not for all.
No brand wants anyone to have buyer’s remorse—it harms reputations, and with the power of social media, bad news about a product travels fast—and it is very important for brands to do everything in their power to help alleviate post-purchase frustration for customers.
That said, most of us need real-life (or close to real life) experiences to judge if we like something or not. We need to try something on. Sit in that new car, or on that new couch. Walk through that house for sale. But what if you just physically can’t? Can brands help customers get such real-life experiences, from a distance, before they make a purchase? The answer is yes. In fact, 3D technology is opening up a whole new world of possibilities for marketers.
Closing the Gap Between Virtual and Reality
We talk about the importance of the omni-channel approach, and how online is increasingly meshing with offline purchasing, but there still remains a significant gap between pre-purchase experiences on different platforms. For instance, we love to shop online, but sometimes it is just too difficult to know for certain if that new gadget is really what we want. Yes, there might be millions of reviews and videos, but nothing beats holding it in your hand so you can see for yourself, right? That is when you head to the retail store.
But, what if we could experience it without leaving the couch? We could “feel” and understand how it would be to use the product? Get inside the car and look around—even get into the driver’s seat—or try on those jeans and get a look at our backsides? 3D technology can help marketers bridge the gap between reality and virtual to create a better and more complete buying experience for customers.
How 3D Might Help Brands
In terms of product marketing, 3D computer-generated imagery (CGI) has been around for almost a decade, used primarily by the automobile industry. A 2012 Forbes article by Alex Southern covered how companies used 3D catalogs and images to create more appealing, cost-effective marketing overtures. Today, brands are using high-end visualization to provide a true immersive reality to power a customer experience. While the use of 3D has continued to evolve in the auto industry, there are a myriad of customer service applications being employed, from shoe design to aircraft manufacturing. I saw numerous examples of virtual product interactions at a recent 3DEXCITE Live (Dassault Systèmes) event I attended, and I can assure you, the applications of 3D visualization will change the way brands market their products and engage customers both in-store and online. Shoe manufacturer Deckers is 3D scanning physical materials to incorporate into 3D mockups and shorten the design process for its shoe brands. For now, it’s aiding the design process but just imagine the ability to visualize not just the color but the fabric and texture that clearly distinguishes suede from leather in marketing materials or in its “custom build your own shoe” interface. Cadillac is creating a virtual showroom where passer-bys could customize a white Cadillac through a wall-sized touchscreen upon which color and options packages are projected on top of the physical car, which acted as a blank canvas. This type of customized window-shopping can take place even when the store isn’t open. Stop by when the store is open, and you can put on headset to virtually sit inside any car with any options package. Gone will be the days where every car color and option needs to sit on the lot to showcase what a customer can experience virtually.