Marketing Cannabis

The legal cannabis industry is expected to be a $50 billion industry by 2026, according to Bloomberg. That is nearly a 7 fold growth from where it is today. In the United States alone, it is believed that over 100 million Americans have tried cannabis, with 25 million Americans having used it within the past year. Investment in the US cannabis industry has boomed over the past few years with 2015 hitting a high of over $220 million in equity financing to private companies. The uptick in funding corresponds to the loosening of cannabis restrictions. The number of verticals being funded within the cannabis sector, including e-commerce, healthcare, and information service solutions, has also increased as cannabis startups have arrived to solve problems in the cannabis supply chain. What are the challenges of marketing marijuana?

Marketing Marijuana Cannabis Bud

The majority of people with any industry knowledge are growers. Old hands in the industry talk of a 15 year learning curve for new growers. 5 years to understand how to grow high quality product, another 5 years to learn how to improve yield without compromising quality and a final 5 years to learn how to get operational costs down without compromising quality or yield. Established growers are passionate about what they do, the newcomers are in it to make a quick buck. Neither group has any real understanding of what it takes to create an integrated marketing strategy. In fact the majority of the cannabis industry lacks any clear marketing strategy.

As Michael Straumietis, CEO of fertilizer producer, Advanced Nutrients puts it. “You’ve got to remember, this is an industry of farmers, and they don’t have the business expertise the industry needs.”

Many “cannapreneurs” are smart enough to see that the super-normal margins which exist in parts of the market today are not sustainable and that prices will inevitably come down as more players enter the market. They know they need to build brand equity or risk being left in that part of the market which will become commoditized. As recreational cannabis becomes legal, a much larger and more diverse demographic can be targeted by the new cannabis brands.

Conducting research to understanding segmentation is fundamental to success. At this point the market is in transition from medical to medical and recreational, two very different segments that don’t easily dovetail together in terms of a single brand identity. Medical marijuana and cannabis derivatives are distinct segments. Each comes with its own purpose, products and potential consumers.

Retail recreational cannabis appeals to several different and evolving demographics, For example, one large group of new users are  late Baby Boomers and early Gen X (in their 50’s and 60’s) — predominantly empty nesters, they are interested in new modes of consumption such as edibles and are averse to smoking. At the same time new Gen X female consumers tend to be interested in not only edibles but also tinctures and beverages. This segment is also strongly predisposed to high quality organic products. Which immediately raises a marketing challenge – the cannabis industry can’t use the same organic label, which is familiar with consumers, as other crops can. This is because cannabis is not so much considered a plant as it is a drug. The label “organic” requires certification by the US Department of Agriculture, which is a federal agency. By the same token the use of trademarks to protect cannabis brands is blocked because of its classification under the federal Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) is prohibited from recognizing cannabis-related trademarks.

Marketing Marijuana Medical Cannabis Dark Chocolate

Once the marketing strategy is defined then the design of logos, positioning statements, websites and product packaging can commence. However, there are more hurdles to overcome, legal cannabis is a highly regulated business category, just like alcohol and tobacco. But unlike those industries, cannabis is not legal at the federal level. Therefore there are no federal regulations – but there are very specific state regulations. Child safety is a primary concern wherever cannabis sales are regulated. For cannabis-infused edibles, San Francisco’s packaging rules include a “Keep Out of Reach of Children” warning, allergen warnings and opaque packaging materials that conceal the products from youngsters.

The cannabis industry must find truly qualified marketing advice from experienced and skilled companies. In such a new industry, where consumer segments are still undefined, it is tough finding experts with deep experience in both traditional marketing and new marketing channels – but we do exist.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Donald Trump and Twitter

Donald Trump’s Twitter account @realDonaldTrump hasn’t always been the powerful communications channel it has become. In the month since the election, Mr. Trump has taken to Twitter to lambast what he sees as unfavorable media coverage, rail against corporations who contemplate taking jobs offshore and defended his impromptu phone calls with foreign leaders.

Journalists and PR practitioners are trying to understand if there is any method in Trump’s Twitter madness.

For the first time, Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, spoke out saying he has “complicated” feelings about Donald Trump’s use of the social media service.

Does President Elect Trump Use Twitter Too Much

Where it all began.

In May 2009, Trump, then a private businessman, sent his first tweet promoting a forthcoming appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman.

Then followed tweets about The Apprentice, his talk show appearances, family milestones and quotes from Donald Trump himself. The tweets directly from him were usually tagged “from Donald Trump,” but rarely veered into politics.

In the last six months of 2011, his Twitter output went from almost 150 tweets a year to more than 100 tweets a month. In 2016, he averaged 375 tweets a month through to the end of November.

Donald Trump's Twitter Followers Reach 18 Million

Trump formally announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, with a campaign rally and speech at Trump Tower in New York City. Ahead of his announcement, he retweeted more than a dozen tweets celebrating the idea of a Trump run.

Donald Trump will continue to tweet as president, according to incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer, who stated that Trump’s engagement with supporters via social media will be “a really exciting part of the job.”

In addition to his 18 million Twitter followers, Trump has about 39 million combined followers across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, which, Spicer said, “allows him to add an element of a conversation that’s never occurred.”

Trump’s ongoing use of Twitter is going to be a political/social experiment on an unprecedented scale. Where it leads no one yet knows.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Adrian G Stewart

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12 Days of Christmas Gifts Up Less Than 1% This Year!

The 2016 results are in and the price of True Love has increased only slightly since last year. The small price rise in the PNC Christmas Price Index® reflects slow economic growth and wage inflation caused an increase in some holiday entertainment options

PNC calculated the price tag for the Christmas Price Index at $34,363.49, just $232.50 or 0.7 percent more than last year’s cost and less than the government’s Consumer Price Index, which has increased 1.6 percent over the past 12 months

This is the 33rd year of PNC putting a price on this Christmas classic

The Twelve Days of Christmas: In most Western church traditions Christmas Day is the first day of Christmas and the twelve days are 25 December – 5 January.

“The Twelve Days of Christmas” song is a cumulative song with twelve verses, each verse describing a gift given by “My True Love” on one of the twelve days of Christmas.

The First Day of Christmas courtesy of PNC

  • First Day  – A Partridge in a Pear Tree.
  • Second Day  – Two Turtle Doves
  • Third Day  – Three French Hens
  • Fourth Day  – Four  Calling Birds
  • Fifth Days – Five Gold Rings
  • Sixth Day  – Six Geese a-Laying
  • Seventh Day  – Seven Swans a-Swimming
  • Eight Day  – Eight Maids a-Milking
  • Ninth Day  – Nine Ladies Dancing
  • Tenth Day  – Ten Lords a-Leaping
  • Eleventh Day – Eleven Pipers Piping
  • Twelfth Day  – Twelve Drummers Drumming

Since 1984, the cumulative costs of the items mentioned in the song have been used as a whimsical economic indicator. Assuming the gifts are repeated in full in each round of the song, then a total of 364 items are delivered by the twelfth day.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Adrian G Stewart

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Positive Press Coverage is Critical to Start-Up Funding

Successful start-ups get funded when VCs are excited about the opportunity, and when the partner leading your investment has checked-off all the key risk factors associated with your future. Getting those boxes successfully checked requires meticulous preparation.

stepsto start-up success

Part of that preparation involves becoming desirable to the media and that requires more than a great product or service. Truth be told, no start-up has ever developed a product or service so unique it could actually sell itself. Believing your product or service is so innovative that the media will hunt you down for a story is a fantasy that simply isn’t going to happen.

Competition in the start-up space is fierce. Not only are there other early-stage start-ups desperately attempting to capture the attention of consumers and VCs — those start-ups are also battling with mature corporations who appear in the media every day.

Success requires the persuasion of the media, potential consumers and the inevitable skeptics. Voice, positioning, and differentiation are all part of an OOKII strategic public relations plan. Start-ups need PR support to make their brand more credible, to gain trust and to start building an emotional connection with future customers. To achieve this requires expert navigation, working with PR professionals who understand how start-ups and venture capitalists function can be your most certain route to success.

Start-up founders need to be industry experts, fully aware of their competition and totally convinced that their offering solves a customer problem in a superior manner. However, founders do not have the time to juggle the challenges of strategic public relations and create a winning PR strategy while managing their critical business operations. Which is where a focused agency like OOKII Company comes in, nothing excites OOKII more than getting to work with a motivated start-up team who share common goals and together we are mutually energized to achieve what some will say is the impossible.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Adrian G Stewart

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Events can be recorded as data.  Data when placed in context becomes information. Information improves the UX (user experience).

Big data therefore holds the promise of experiences personalized to the customer’s individual preferences; but how many times have you tried to clean-up your CRM to even start improving targeting?

Profile Personalisation - Create a single, actionable view of your customer

PR and social activity should be driving auditable traffic to your website (at OOKII Company we’re a bit obsessed about our clients’ Google Analytics referral reports) to demonstrate PR ROI. So once you’ve created interest, how can you improve yield?

Historically, there has been plenty of big data sizzle but not much sausage. Huge investments in data warehouses and hierarchical storage management systems still don’t really connect this data to the customer experience. The ability for organizations to leverage their information assets and deliver personalized experiences remains, for many, a missed opportunity. But the opportunity exists and there are now a growing number of systems from companies such as Hellosoda, MongoDB and Monetate who are enabling this crucial step to personalisation..

Organizations who have successfully tapped into their customer data using these new systems are claiming some outstanding improvements to their key business metrics.

>10% uplift in response rates & click-through rates

>75% of customers more likely to make a purchase

>60% of clients see increased marketing ROI

As many of our customers tell us, “We have all this data – we just haven’t been able to get around to using it properly”. Businesses that can effectively pull this data together, in a place that’s accessible for optimizing experiences, have the potential to unlock untapped revenue and deliver truly profitable experiences.

Typical information gathered on customers and used by personalisation systems includes:

  • Personality traits (male/female, millennial, CEO……)
  • Key life events such as charity fun run, or a global event like the World Cup
  • Date of salary payment
  • Best time to contact (work hours, evenings….)
  • Spending habits garnered from previous shopping cart behavior
  • Socio-demographic information
  • Geo-location for time-of-day accuracy or better localization

Whatever you try, your website can be a great place to start. Think about the goals of your site and the way your visitors use it. Then identify a targeted place where personalisation could help ease friction. Website personalisation shouldn’t be a cheap ‘Welcome back Dave’ trick. It’s important to understand the points of friction in the marketing funnel, and use a technically enabled personalisation strategy to improve the user experience, and facilitate the journey towards the desired outcome – be that a purchase or a membership enrollment – however you define that end goal.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Adrian G Stewart

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Personal Branding

Regardless of age, regardless of position, regardless of the occupation you happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of personal branding. A well-curated personal brand is an essential part of any entrepreneur or business leader’s marketing strategy.

Personal branding is essentially the continuous process of creating and maintaining an image or perception that extends well beyond social media. In a professional context you want to be recognized as an expert in your area of competence, and you want to stand out in the minds of your audience.

Key opinion leaders have a personal brand; an interesting subject with no profile or back story is hard to pitch to media.

At OOKII Company we’re particularly fond of arranging speaking opportunities at conferences; this is an immediate way of communicating your brand and expertise among peers or potential customers.

Whether you’re a financial planner or a fashion blogger, a personal brand has become a professional requirement—the key to success is fulfilling people’s expectations by sharing unique insights and continually having new ideas and opinions to share. A good PR agency can help you with this; they still need have to have access to you regularly to stay-up-to-speed.

Step 1: Defining your brand

How do you want to be perceived? Obviously the answer to this question depends to some extent on your target audience. It doesn’t do a software guru any good to brand herself as a marketing prodigy. During this first step it is also important to start thinking about your points of differentiation—what makes you different from all the other rocket scientists out there?

Your personal brand should represent the value you are able to consistently deliver to your target audience. To try and do anything else over an extended period of time would not only lack integrity it would be utterly exhausting: focussing on your specialism is key. Once you have identified your area of expertise, you need to think about how to make yourself memorable.

People are interested in people. So the more personal you can make this the more memorable it will be. You might, for example, want to talk about a personal achievement such as swimming the English Channel (like one of our founders).

Step 2: Communicating your brand

Your brand should be reflected in everything you do from presentations at conferences to emails. Social media channels give you an opportunity to write about yourself once but have it read many times. Here are three sites that you should consider.

LinkedIn: Helps you build effective business relationships based on the “know, like, and trust” factor. If you haven’t done so already begin by creating a LinkedIn profile. At OOKII we often manage regular updates to this channel for busy CEOs.

Facebook: Facebook helps you tell your personal brand story in ways that connect, inform, and entertain. Be selective with your friends and the communities you join. Don’t worry about Facebook if you’re a pure B2B player though.

Twitter: This social channel is easy to update and to mix together personal and business related content. Again, it’s often better to have a 3rd party PR like OOKII Company managing posts and responding to comments as it’s hard to stay on top of the volume.

Step 3: Keep a hand on the helm

Good personal brand managers, like good sailors anticipate when conditions are about to change and react accordingly. Ships don’t sail themselves and personal brands don’t manage themselves: we’re here to help.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Adrian G Stewart



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PESO Paid Earned Shared Owned

This week we want to focus on how PR and communications can make a real contribution to the bottom line. Perhaps the most useful framework for how we at OOKII Company think about communications is the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model:

PESO: The model developed by American PR and social media guru, Gini Dietrich.

PR professionals who adopt the PESO model can have tremendous influence in terms of an organization’s overall communications strategy. If you’re stuck in “media-relations-only” mode, you will miss opportunities. When communications is approached with a synergistic mindset, what starts as a mere press release to generate industry news can become a mini campaign that reaches your target audience where they are consuming content, at a time to suit them and in manner that appeals to them.

“If you aren’t using the PESO model for your communications work, and measuring the meaningful metrics that help an organization grow, you will not have a job in 10 years.” Says Dietrich.

The PESO model is basically about the benefits of adopting an holistic approach, by combining each of the elements (paid, earned, shared, and owned) to achieve company goals and adapting how you use the different elements based on that goal. Building brand credibility clearly requires a different approach to that of filling the sales funnel.

  • Paid media: This may include social media ads, sponsored posts and digital advertising. Also above-the-line activities such as direct mail, which still have a key role.
  • Earned media: This is achieved through persuasion. You or more likely your PR agency will convince a journalist, blogger or other online ‘opinion leader’ to write about your organization and share your content.
  • Shared media: Similar to earned but exclusively via social media platforms. This can be one of the most powerful elements for organizations when they leverage their followers’ peer review.
  • Owned media: This is content that you create, manage and control yourself. A website or a company blog, but the important part is that it is content you create and control.

For example

An OOKII client produces an informative and well written whitepaper that will be of real interest to the client’s target audience. The whitepaper is published together with a blog post on the organization’s website. This is owned media.

A trackable link to the whitepaper is then shared across the organizations social media channels. People following those social channels engage with the content and hopefully they like it and more importantly, they share it among their friends and community. This is shared media.

A specialist blogger sees the online activity and decides to write a post on the topic, citing your organization and your white paper. This is earned media.

The organization creates and runs digital ads together with sponsored social media ads that take interested prospects through to the blog where the whitepaper is posted. This is paid media.

Keep it punchy!

What the PESO model highlights very clearly is that content is king. Content is at the heart of all our efforts.

Providing high quality content is vital if you want to engage in a meaningful way with your target audience, but people’s time to consume information is greatly reducing, so keeping it punchy and to-the-point has never been more important!

PESO summary

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Adrian G Stewart

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Millennials Want an Adventure When They Travel

Tourism is worth around $7.2tn a year to the global economy.

Adventure Travel is worth around $263bn globally and growing at a rapid pace.

Adventure travel is defined by the U.S. based Adventure Travel Trade Association as any tourist activity that includes the following three components:  physical activity,  cultural exchange and connection with nature.

This includes Adventure Travel for the disabled which has become a $13 billion a year industry.

“Fifteen years ago people were acquiring things. Now the focus is on acquiring experiences,” says Wes Allen, president of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance, a group of 62 independently-owned outdoor specialty shops across the US.

Retailers such as REI who focus on selling products and clothes designed for specific sporting activities and made from high performance fabrics also offer 150 guided adventure vacations. They started this part of their business 25 years ago.

Social media and changing demographics are driving the trend in adventure travel, says Kristin Lamoureux, associate dean at New York University’s Tisch Center for Hospitality and Tourism.

“Millennials need to have experiences that are meaningful. They want to get closer to the natural environment, to the social environment, and they want to have an authentic experience. Can you wake up in the morning and look out of the window and know where you are? Is there a sense of place? Whether it’s breaking bread with a local or climbing up a mountain, adventure travel fits that need very well,” she says.

Access to inexpensive consumer technology, with respect to Global Positioning Systems, “flashpacking”, social networking and photography, have increased the worldwide interest in adventure travel.

“And people aren’t just taking trips – they’re showcasing what they’re doing on social media,” Lamoureux adds.

When developing PR strategies, rather than segment by specific destinations such as Costa Rica or by specific activities such as canoeing or hiking, it can be more insightful to segment Adventure Tourism along the following lines.

Cultural tourism

Cultural tourism is the act of travelling to a place to see that location’s culture, including the lifestyle of the people in that area, the history of those people, their art, architecture, religions, and other factors that shape their way of life.


The “responsible travel to natural areas that conserves the environment, sustains the well-being of the local people, and involves interpretation and education”. Education is meant to be inclusive of both staff and guests.


Ethno tourism refers to visiting a foreign location for the sake of observing the indigenous members of its society and is non-scientific.


Extreme tourism involves travel to dangerous locations or participation in dangerous events or activities. This form of tourism can overlap with extreme sports.

Jungle tourism

Jungle tourism pertains specifically to the context of region, culture and activity. Jungle tours have become a major component of green tourism in tropical destinations and are a relatively recent phenomenon of Western international tourism.

Overland Travel

Overlanding is a form of extended adventure holiday, embarking on a long journey, often in a group. Overland companies provide a converted truck or a bus plus a tour leader, and the group travels together overland for a period of weeks or even months.

Urban Exploration

Urban exploration (Urbex or UE) is the examination of the normally unseen or off-limits parts of urban areas or industrial facilities.

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

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Don’t Panic – Plan.

The recent Emirates Airline accident is both a timely reminder that bad things happen to companies with exemplary records and a prime example of how to handle a crisis. Whether it’s a plane crash or a server crash there are universal lessons that can be learned from the way Emirates handled this particular accident.

What happened?
Emirates Flight 521 was a scheduled international passenger flight from Thiruvananthapuram, India, to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, operated by Emirates. On 3 August 2016, the aircraft carrying 282 passengers and 18 crew crashed while landing at Dubai International Airport. All 300 people on board survived the accident; an airport firefighter died during the rescue operation with thirteen people being injured. This accident was the first loss of an aircraft operated by Emirates.

Breaking news
Passengers on flight 521 used Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to share news of the accident. The main news outlets followed quickly through both their normal channels and on social media; today, news breaks at the speed of light.

Social Media Accelerates Breaking News Distribution

Being prepared
Emirates marketing and PR were well prepared, with a plan and policy to handle just such a crisis. Following a well understood series of steps they worked to lead the news cycle, reassure the public and protect their brand reputation. The objectives during any major crisis are to protect all individuals (employee or public) who may be affected by the crisis, ensure the key audiences are kept informed, and that the organization survives. Your written crisis plan should include specific actions that will be taken in the event of a crisis; forming a crisis team consisting of senior contributors from PR, HR, legal, marketing, operations, and other relevant functional areas that can come together quickly and has the authority to act.

If the crisis could potentially impact the health or well-being of customers, the general public or employees, it will attract mainstream media attention. Emirates promptly issued a statement from His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Emirates Chairman & Chief Executive – the big boss didn’t have to be the first and only media spokesperson.

Emirates Chairman and CEO Spoke for the Airline

During a crisis ensure your company speaks with one voice and delivers a clear and consistent message, a spokesperson, and an alternate, must be identified ahead of any crisis and be capable of answering media questions and participating in interviews, some of which may be hostile. Being 100% available is impossible but having an informed, collaborative and capable PR operation will deliver effective media interaction; for some OOKII Company clients we are built-in as the wave 1 crisis management comms team.

Warren Buffet once said: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” It is critical to be honest and open about any issues you or your company may be facing. If you made a mistake, admit it, apologize, and do everything in your power to correct it. Your customers don’t expect you and your teams to be perfect, just transparent and honest. Emirates issued a number of statements as the crisis unfolded each one sequentially numbered in the subject line, so that the chronology of events was easy to follow.

Align every channel
This obviously depends on the exact nature of the crisis. The key is to demonstrate leadership and express empathy by whatever means is appropriate. For example on August 3rd Emirates immediately changed their logo to neutral colours and removed the cover image of smiling flight attendants on their social media accounts; Facebook 6,200k fans, Twitter 765k followers and Linkedin 598k connections. This “greying out” of social media during a crisis is now becoming expected.

"greying out" of Social Media Channels


Are you prepared?
In any organization there are a number of scenarios that can be deemed a crisis – from the very simple (e.g. a bad product review), to the extreme. News breaks so quickly there is no opportunity to play it by ear. Every organization needs to be prepared and ready. OOKII Company has deep experience of developing crisis management plans, if you would like our advice and guidance to develop your crisis management plan we would be delighted to talk with you.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

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Virtual Reality

Why is virtual reality (VR) suddenly becoming a more relevant topic with PR agencies and their clients?

Would a journalist prefer to see an image of a new product or virtually walk around it or even through it?

It’s just a fad; we’ll never spend our free time wearing a headset. Really? How much time do you spend (by yourself) looking at a smartphone screen for entertainment?

The advancement of technology, processor speeds and faster graphics cards combined with a new generation of VR headsets from Oculus, Sony, HTC, Samsung and Google are enabling a VR experience approaching total immersion – making the virtual reality experience so real that users forget the computer, headgear and behave exactly as we would in the real world.

VR is going to transform the way PRs tell stories. Imagine for a moment taking potential customers on a VR tour of your auto factory, creating an experience of what it’s like to drive your new car model through the Swiss Alps. Increasingly, effective public relations is about public engagement and if the goal of public relations is to engage, then bringing customers into the virtual world of our clients is the ultimate means of achieving this.

Goldman Sachs expects Head-Mounted Devices (HMD) will benefit from the same economies of scale that other devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones have enjoyed, and that headset price/performance will improve in a similar manner over time, driving wide-scale adoption.

VR Technology declines


Phil Newman of OOKII Company believes that in the near future PR practitioners will offer VR experiences to journalists and editors, rather than sharing hi-res images and HD video. Phil believes that when audiences become immersed in a VR experience they are so captivated that they literally can’t simultaneously text, tweet or Instagram while consuming content, which makes messages delivered via VR much more impactful. Thomas A. Furness, a VR expert with The Human Interface Technology Lab at the University of Washington, describes immersive VR as “…like writing on the brain with indelible ink.”

FOVE will offer the worlds first eye tracking VR headset.  Source: FOVE

Which commercial sectors are expected to adopt VR? Again Goldman Sachs have done some of the heavy lifting and as you can see in the chart below there are several areas that are expected to adopt VR, perhaps most notable is the real-estate market where VR technology is expected to literally transform the home selling/buying experience over the next ten years.

VR adoption

Companies are beginning to use VR technology for case studies, product announcements, CSR initiatives and more. As VR technology becomes more widely adopted, both B2C and B2B buyers will seek out companies that offer interesting virtual experiences and these will become industry leaders in the years ahead.

First published by Adrian G Stewart at OOKII.Company

Adrian G Stewart

Adrian G Stewart

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