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Augmented/Virtual Reality - Next big thing in marketing: Neeraj Chaturvedi

The online real estate market is a blessing for homebuyers, who often find themselves caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to selecting the ‘right home at the right price’. And, real estate developers and agents now understand the importance of going digital. With a barrage of information ready to be unravelled at the click of a mouse, end-users feel more empowered than ever before. 

With ever more information available in a quick and disposable form, more layers of transparency and convenience are being added to make the user experience more seamless. As brands take content marketing more seriously, richer ways of data delivery, including innovation in augmented and virtual reality space, have changed the way we buy property. 

What if you can visualise the view from the balcony of the apartment you would like to buy, before it is even constructed? Imagine visualising how sunlight dapples your room at different times of the day, or picturing how your project would look like after the swimming pool and other amenities are constructed. This is already possible! In many ways, it is possible to know more about a property by viewing it online than by physically visiting the site, especially in the case of a new project. Today, virtual reality (VR) can help potential homebuyers accurately visualise property in ways they could not have imagined a few years ago. 

So are AR/VR the next big thing? 

In this context, we are merging the definition of both AR and VR to visualisation because both are attempting to do the same thing. While AR overlays information on top of a real setting, VR is a digital recreation of a real life setting. It is easy to see that both are attempting to create an accurate representation of WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get! 

In today’s era this is something that marketers cannot ignore, especially in the backdrop of what is happening in a consumer’s life. There are two changes from earlier generations, which all consumers are experiencing in some way or the other. Firstly, there is paucity of time as consumers have to manage a much more complicated ecosystem than the earlier generations. Secondly, the next generation is more tech savvy than the current one. The reality of the above statements is that they will always hold true for every generation. 

Given these immutable trends, anything that can save time and is easy to adopt will have a natural demand with consumers and AR/VR technology does just that. It helps you visualise the product, highlight features and give an immersive experience. Thus, all experiential products are moving towards using this technology, be it cars or real estate. 

The introduction of this technology in real estate offers an immersive experience and helps them shortlist properties basis this experience. It offers consumers convenience, where from the comfort of their homes or workplaces they can set the time, pace, amount of time they want to spend on the project. It is important to note that it also provides an environment where you are not pressured to take a decision soon by overenthusiastic sales agents. In consumer segments like NRIs or outstation buyers, the benefit becomes amplified since it saves significant time and money. 

In the digital real estate platforms we operate – Housing.com, PropTiger.com  and makaan.com – we  are able to generate many more layers of information about real estate projects which we get from the developers and from authorities to give a holistic view of the projects. We have developed new technologies like Slice View and virtual walkthroughs and the attempt is to constantly evolve the experience. 

In conclusion, the AR/VR experience is getting better and more real every day, so it is imperative for marketers to do their best to keep up and offer their consumers a unique experience. And yes, this is the next big thing, and it is already here! 

(Neeraj Chaturvedi is Chief Marketing Officer, Housing.com, PropTiger.com and Makaan.com.)

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