Marketing goes virtual at Procter & Gamble

Marketers at Procter & Gamble are testing a revolutionary marketing tool that, through the power of computer-generation, is saving them years of traditional research.

The reactions, behaviour and experiences of consumers are being played out for them to see thanks to the Cave – a walk-in three dimensional room that projects the visitor into a virtual world.

Given P&G’s clients comprise A-list supermarkets like Tesco, J.Sainsbury Asda and Boots, the cave is able to recreate, in every detail, the interior of these high street stores, The FT reported.

Cave visitors can walk through and explore the aisles, ‘picking’ products that catch their eye, or turning them round to read labels or sell by dates before they proceed to checkout to ‘buy.’

As consumers explore their familiar shopping worlds, albeit virtual, watchful marketers at P&G are tweaking the store layouts, displays, product design and overall packaging.

“In three months we have done work that would previously have taken us two years,” Gianni Ciserani, P&G’s general manager for UK& Ireland said in an interview with The Financial Times.

He added that before the virtual cave, the company would need to persuade one of their retail clients to overturn one of their stores for a pilot – an experiment that means time and money for both parties.

P&G said they have compared their computer-enabled results with traditional real-world research to find the cave is producing findings robust enough to use.

However they are reportedly working on ways to remove the final barriers to the virtual experience: some shoppers prefer using a virtual shopping trolley and glove, instead of a mouse to ‘pick up’ items.

For the future, the company hopes to immerse their real-world volunteers even more in the 3D world, with the addition of in-store sounds and the virtual presence of other shoppers.


19th October 2006

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