Horizon Media Study Finds Two Thirds of Americans Unaware of Virtual Reality Devices

36% Interested in Owning Virtual Reality Device, but 75% Won't Pay More Than $250

Mar 07, 2016, 08:07 ET from Horizon Media, Inc.

NEW YORK, March 7, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Horizon Media, the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world, announced today its most recent research on consumer interest in virtual reality devices. The research was fielded in Finger on the Pulse, the agency's proprietary online research community comprised of 3,000 people reflective of the U.S. population, and with the social media expertise of Horizon's Distillery social intelligence team. The research shows that despite extensive media coverage of Oculus Rift, Samsung Gear VR, Google Cardboard and other virtual reality devices, fully two thirds of consumers are unaware of the technology.

Virtual reality – often referred to as "VR" – has been readily embraced by the mainstream media as the shiny, new, technological advancement. Marketers are also understandably excited about the possibilities unleashed by VR technology. But while there is interest among consumers, the survey findings suggest that companies would be well served to walk before they run when incorporating virtual reality activations into marketing plans, at least until the technology reaches greater awareness and scale.

Consumers are open to a VR enhanced future, but believe it will take several more years to get there. Unaided awareness of the major devices is fairly low at just 33%. However, more than a third (36%) say they are interested in owning some sort of virtual reality device. In addition Horizon's Distillery social intelligence team found that 9% of online discussion around the topic is related to positive purchase interest. In fact, compared to the Apple Watch before its release, VR got much more love from Finger on the Pulse panelists.  Twice as many consumers consider VR "an exciting new innovation to own" (82% for VR vs. 44% for Apple Watch), and twice as many say "everyone is going to wish they owned one" (55% for VR vs. 24% for Apple Watch). A strong majority of consumers (81%) also believe that five years from now, anywhere from a quarter to half of the population will own a VR device.

When it comes to exactly what people want to use VR for, Finger on the Pulse survey respondents listed travel, viewing infrequent live events (like the Olympics and SXSW), seeing concerts, and playing sports as their top interests. Interestingly, gaming and viewing sporting events rank in the bottom two interests for the general population. However, online conversation tells a different story. In an analysis of VR related posts mentioning one of these same six use interest areas, gaming claimed a 93% share of the discussion, proving that gamers are by far the biggest drivers of online buzz.

"The research helps explain why gaming is the most likely first frontier for virtual reality devices," said Kirk Olson, VP, Trendsights at Horizon Media. "Core gamers aren't a large audience, but they're passionate about new technology. That makes them much more likely to pay for premium devices like Oculus Rift."

Horizon's Distillery team found that 10% of negative conversation about virtual reality devices is connected to discussion about price, with many consumers saying the price of VR is prohibitive. The survey found that only one quarter (25%) of consumers are willing to spend more than $250 on a virtual reality device. Currently, Oculus Rift is priced at $599, while Samsung offers its Gear VR for $99 and Google Cardboard viewers are around $20.  

"Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard are low-cost alternatives that lower the barrier to entry," continued Olson. "That benefits marketers because the sooner we see more consumers using VR devices, the sooner we'll understand what they're truly good for. Not just what they can do, but what they can do that consumers CARE about. The 'caring' part is the key to creating meaningful and effective consumer connections."

Not surprisingly, younger men are the most eager VR consumers: they have higher interest in owning a VR device (47% of men vs. 25% of women; 54% of 18-34 year olds vs. 44% of 35-49, 25% of 50-64), are twice as likely to say they would pay $250+ (31% of men vs. 16% of women; 30% of under 50s vs. 15% of 50-64), and men are 3x as likely to have already tried VR technology (16% of men vs. 6% of women).

Still, there are some who may never be converted:  55% of those who say they don't want to own a VR device say it is because they "don't find it that interesting or exciting," and 34% say "If I want to have experiences, I can just go do them in real life."

Finger on the Pulse empowers the agency to connect directly with 3,000 consumers, diving beneath the surface of beliefs and behaviors to uncover critical insights. Horizon's Distillery is both a physical place within Horizon's office and a social intelligence practice, combining multiple social intelligence technologies with analyst talent. The Distillery team goes beyond simply listening, distilling online conversation into valuable strategic insights that help brands understand consumers and optimize campaigns on the fly.

About Horizon Media
Horizon Media, Inc. is the largest and fastest growing privately held media services agency in the world. The company was founded in 1989, is headquartered in New York and has offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Chicago. Horizon Media was chosen as 2011 Independent Media Agency of the Year by Mediapost, 2010 U.S. Media Agency of the Year by Adweek, Brandweek, and Mediaweek as well as by Ad Age and as one of the world's ten most innovative marketing and advertising companies by Fast Company in 2011. In 2012, Bill Koenigsberg, President, CEO and Founder, was honored by Advertising Age as Industry Executive of the Year. Most recently, in 2014, Bill Koenigsberg was named 4As Chair of the Board and is the first person from a media agency to hold this prestigious position in the 100 year history of the 4As, the marketing industry's leading trade association.

The company's mission is "To create the most meaningful brand connections within the lives of people everywhere." By delivering on this mission through a holistic approach to brand marketing, Horizon Media has become one of the largest and fastest-growing media agencies in the industry, with estimated billings of over $6.3 billion and over 1,200 employees.

The company is also a founding member of Columbus Media International, a multi-national partnership of independent media agencies. For more information, please visit horizonmedia.com.

Horizon Media
Kaya Lobaczewski
(212) 220-2102


SOURCE Horizon Media, Inc.