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Samsung and the New Zealand government test virtual reality as a B2B marketing tool

The New Zealand Government has partnered with Samsung to use virtual reality (VR) in its business to business marketing, using it to better tell stories around food provenance.

New Zealand Trade and Enterprise is using VR at trade shows to give an insight to food buyers about the produce from New Zealand. As with a lot of new technology, the marketing adoption of VR has largely been in a B2C context but Lauren Bartlett, regional marketing manager for New Zealand Trade in Asia, said: “For us, virtual reality is almost more effective in B2B than B2C."

Speaking to The Drum about their first use of virtual reality, Bartlett said it was already proving valuable because buying food and beverage products required a “high degree of trust” and “understanding about where the produce is coming from”.

“For us, virtual reality is almost more effective in B2B than B2C. It can be quite a single, personal experience, so for a smaller audience it’s ideal. At the moment we’re trialling VR at our own events – after the experience we’re able to follow up directly with our buyers by pouring them a glass of wine from the vineyard they’ve just seen, or introducing them directly to the supplier.

“To make a sale in B2C via VR is tougher – you need greater scale in terms of headsets, staff and online and offline promotion. In saying that, going forward, I do see us preparing more content for B2C users, because consumers are becoming so much more aware of where their food is coming from,” she said.

The visuals of the VR experience take people through some of the landscapes of agricultural New Zealand as well as into the places where products are made, such as a vineyard. The first content that they’ve invested in is quite broad due to cost restraints but Bartlett said they made the leap now because the price point was at the right stage.

“We’ve been considering VR for a while now, but as a government division we have to be extremely conscious of how we’re making the best use of every dollar. We’ve reached a tipping point where both the technology and the ability to shoot in VR is affordable. We were able to put this campaign together for an extremely modest price point by pulling the storyline together in-house, and utilising some existing footage.

"We were also extremely grateful to have Samsung Electronics Singapore on-board as our official partner for our Singapore launch,” she explained.

The technology has already been used at events in the region and Bartlett said some reactions to the content have been quite emotional, with someone even crying. The success will be eventually tracked in sales but she is already bullish that the New Zealand government will invest in using the technology in other ways.

“We’ll bring the food experience to consumers in Singapore, Thailand and Korea in May, during our annual Taste New Zealand food fairs in those cities. Going forward we’ll look at more B2B content in other sectors – for example we have some great companies working in the aviation space and the marine industry – we’d love to show buyers in those sectors what it’s like to land a Pacific Aerospace plane on a short runway, or have them experience what one of our Hamilton Jet boats can do.

"I can also see it having a place to play in our government to government work – it’s a way of us being able to allow other governments to ‘visit’ and see the work we do around the world. I’m also keen to keep pushing with the medium – I’d love to do some gamification within our next piece.”

As with a lot of technology while still in the early stages, there isn’t much content being created specifically for it. A bonus to coming on board with a tech business like Samsung early means the content for this project may now be used in Samsung Experience Stores. Bartlett says they’ll track the feedback and data on the views of consumers while its being shown in store in Singapore in May and adapt for future content.