I guess you would agree: Virtual Reality (VR) is an extraordinary technology.
However, how many people do you actually know that owns a VR device?
Every semester I ask my students, assuming that a younger generation would be more likely to quickly adopt it. In every group the answer is more or less the same: rarely anyone has it or has even tried it.
Study: General Perception towards Virtual Reality
Considering the scenario described above, one of the studies we developed here at MusicStats.org aimed at investigating users general perception towards virtual reality. The descriptive study measured a series of elements, including perceptual and behavioral factors such as: involvement with technology, value perception and ownership of VR.
For this article, I’ll share two outputs from the study:
- Ownership of Virtual Reality Gadgets
- Main barriers for the adoption of Virtual Reality
The study currently includes a sample of 220 respondents ranging from 18 to 35 years. This sample comprises mostly university students studying in Germany and represents a strong potential market for VR related brands.
Ownership of Virtual Reality Gadgets Among Youngsters
The first result is alarming for the industry. The overall distribution shows that only 15% of participants own a virtual reality gadget.
Considering the characteristics of this consumer group (highly involved with technology and certainly tech-savvy) the results highlight an urgent need to further understand the lack of adoption of VR.
Thus, to further understand this fact, let’s have a look at the perception towards the potential barriers to adopting VR devices.
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Main Barriers for the Adoption of Virtual Reality
In order to understand the main barriers for the adoption of VR an initial exploratory investigation was made and narrowed the possible factors to a few, which included: price, quality of resolution, reputation of technology, health concerns and usefulness.
All elements were measured on 5-point Likert scales, ranging from 1-“Not at all influential” to 5-“Extremely influential”. Thus, the greater the perception, the more influential the element is in hindering users from using virtual reality.
The results reveal that price, perceived usefulness and quality of resolution are the most influential factors stopping respondents from using virtual reality.
- Price: The respondent group represents overall a low income group (mostly students). And as the most advanced gadgets are often sold for over €350 and used mostly for gaming by this consumer group, it is comprehensible that price would be strong factor. After all, there are many other replaceable options for gaming. However, in the coming years prices are expected to lower and hopefully become a less influential factor.
- Perceived Usefulness: For me, PU represents the factor that should raise the highest concern for the industry. I truly believe in the potential and possibilities of VR and considering that youngsters are the main target market for the industry, this has to be an issue. The core value of the technology has to be clearer for this consumer group to consider it as indispensable.
- Quality of Resolution: Considering the low ownership and usage, there is a great likelihood the users rely on cheaper gadget versions where smartphones are used to trigger a virtual reality experience. This includes models such as Google Cardboard or similar models. In these situations the resolution will obviously depend on the smartphone. And a negative experience might influence the way virtual reality is seen as a technology.
The results shown here are a small portion of our study, but enough to raise awareness to the problem. Low ownership by the greatest potential consumer group is not a positive sign.
Personally, I believe the industry needs to do much more to inform and inspire users to adopt virtual reality. There is still so much unlocked potential in so many different industries. While dealing with students on a daily basis, I recurrently notice there is very low awareness of this potential.
If the industry wishes to achieve greater market penetration it will need to urgently adopt new promotional strategies. And, unfortunately, reduce final price of gadgets. There is great potential to monetize through subscriptions and pay-per-view models. But those will only have an impact if the user actually has a device capable of generating a convincing virtual experience.