Ready Player One! Are you ready to lose yourselves in your own OASIS? If yes, then you have probably heard about the next big thing in the Virtual Reality (VR) industry – the Wireless Adapter from HTC VIVE. The new adapter offers a full tetherless experience, immersing you in a world of its own. Of course, only if you have the HTC VIVE or VIVE Pro headsets.
It looks cool, doesn’t it? But in order to like or dislike a certain thing/experience, people usually need to try it. However, according to a Mintel’s report (2017), 76% of the interviewed people have never tried a VR headset in their lives. So, I decided to check people’s views on social media about this new product and how it has been advertised by the company to potential customers. Surprisingly, HTC VIVE promoted it only on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, so I had limited data to work with.
Where is the love?
By analysing how HTC VIVE tried to introduce the new product to new (or returning) customers, I divided my research into three timeframes – advertising period (the launch of the promo video), beginning of pre-orders period, and the first day of the official launch. The comments, categorised into positive/neutral/negative sentiment, fluctuated in the three periods despite my expectations of full love vibe.
When the promo video was released, I thought this is the most amazing thing in the world. I was like: “HTC take my money now!”, but people were showing mixed emotions. Positive comments were leading, but people were still undecided on how they felt about the product. Why was that? Short answer: the price. Commenters were complaining how expensive the product is. And this might be one of the reason why people dislike the product or cannot decide if they are favourable towards it or not. (I hit the brakes as well, HTC don’t take my money.)
Although, there was excitement when the pre-orders started, negative comments increased. As the product became available, people were more willing to pick a side – either positive or negative. The price was the main issue again, but another characteristic of the product might have started to influence the decision-making – user-friendliness. There were a lot of complaints about the adapter not being compatible with laptops, or certain wires being needed for connection. So, people might ask themselves “Why pay so much (£300!), if I won’t be able to use it?”
What happened after the pre-orders arrived at the customers? The scale between negative and positive tipped further into negative. The two problematic areas that stood out the most during the pre-order and launch period were cost and user-friendliness.
So how does HTC VIVE deal with all those negative comments?
HTC VIVE cuts the cable on engagement
Wrong wires! Apart from comments about the product, I focused on other areas such as customer service, competitors and engagement. Or maybe I should say the lack of engagement. Once the pre-order period started, potential customers were asking questions about the adapter or shipping services, but there was low or no engagement from the brand. That’s when the negative sentiment around the price and the user-friendliness increased. Many people expressed negative views about missing shipment details and lack of information. So why does HTC VIVE not answer (potential) customer queries?
Possibly, this is a communication issue with resources or strategy. Therefore, HTC VIVE should go back to basics – Public Relations (PR) and Customer Relationship Marketing (CRM). The brand should focus on improving its customer service as it can result in customer retention and increased loyalty. Another way of regaining trust of its current customers and proving themselves to potential customers is developing the two-way communication process on social media. With 76% of people not yet adapting VR, HTC VIVE has a great opportunity to redefine their services and use what they sell. They need to ensure they use available channels and sources to answer customers, listen and improve if they want to keep their competitive advantage. If people are not happy with the brand, they will go to a competitor that offers the same or similar products.
Although it’s too late for HTC VIVE to change the structure or the price of the wireless adapter, they should pay more attention to what people are saying and improve the quality of their services. By engaging with their audience, the brand could avoid another wave of negative comments. Innovation is only half the journey, communication is the other!
Mintel, 2017. Virtual Reality - UK - December 2017 [online]. Mintel Group Ltd. Available from: http://academic.mintel.com/display/796267/ [Accessed 14 Oct 2018].
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