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Testing O2 Stores with VR


O2’s challenge was to create a more eye-catching point of sale for a product in store, which more clearly (and immediately) conveyed what the product is and what the benefits are. With limited space and a crowded environment, the challenge was to bring the retail environment to life. This could not be achieved by showing respondents flat images and mocking up the physical retail environment would be too costly, time-consuming and problematic to test at scale.

The secondary objective was to validate that a virtual reality approach generated meaningful findings in quantitative research. As no one had created a VR research panel before, we wanted to know whether it added to the research experience and could be a new tool in addressing declining response rates in quantitative research.


Populus Limited worked in conjunction with Populus Data Solutions (part of Populus Group) and Gorilla In The Room (our Virtual Reality technology partner) to design an intuitive mobile survey solution.

This integrated a virtual reality 360-video into the survey itself. Respondents were sent Google Cardboard headsets and then invited to take part in the survey using their smartphone.

A sample of 400 was split into 5 monadic cells. Each cell was exposed to a different virtual environment of the O2 store, where the store assets were digitally altered using CGI.

The virtual reality experience was created with the use of filmed footage from one of the O2 stores trialling the product. The store was filmed using a 360 degree camera in a fixed position, ensuring that the only variation between different executions were the representations of the bay. This approach ensured that factors with the store layout such as the other point of sale and messaging surrounding the product bay and the wider store environment were consistent and did not bias the results in any way.  When respondents put the virtual reality headset on, the standard O2 radio station was playing, adding to the realistic atmosphere and immersive experience. A panoramic shot from the virtual reality video is shown below.



Using VR brought the concepts to life, allowing respondents to feel fully engaged and involved with the study. This immersive approach provides a far more accurate portrayal than if the concepts were tested in isolation, particularly for awareness and clarity. It fully mimicked the experience of a busy in-store environment. This real-world insight gave clear direction to O2 on the best performing concepts and store set-up.

Another aim of this research was establish whether using VR was practical within quantitative research and if it could produce meaningful data. Both of these were confirmed. We were particularly pleased by the respondent’s highly positive reaction to VR stimulus. A few of the comments are below:

 “Thank you for a great experience. It was very cool to do something new. I’ll look forward to the next survey”

“Brilliant survey and very different”

“I liked the whole experience, enjoyed every second of it.”

Respondents reported that VR enhanced the experience of a survey, with net enjoyability significantly higher than a comparable standard quant survey run over the same period.

Find out more about Populus Data Solutions’ VR Panel here.

Find out more about Gorilla In The Room VR and AR solutions here.

View the full Researching in–store, at home. Using virtual reality within quantitative surveys research paper.


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