Amidst the pandemic, life as we know it has drastically changed. Leaving our homes only for essentials has become the new normal. One of the most significant sectors to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic has been the retail industry. 

As non-essential businesses are forced to close, data from IMRG has recorded an increase in online sales by 22% at the beginning of April, in comparison to last year's figures. These figures suggest a promising future for online shopping which is expected to increase as the pandemic continues.

With this in mind, retailers have taken a new direction in selling their products online in a much more intuitive way. With thanks to technology such as virtual reality, sports brand Asic's have taken on the challenge by launching three new premium professional running shoes. 

The trainers have been in Asics's pipeline to be launched for over a year and were typically set to go down traditional advertising avenues, leading up to Japan's 2020 Olympics. As the world went into lockdown, the company devised an igneous plan to get their shoes launched virtually, mainly for the use of media personnel to share their views on the shoes.

(Image from Asics demonstrates their Asics Virtual innovation Lab)

Solarflare developers created content that was able to sit at the forefront of VR experience. The content was placed in the Asics Virtual innovation Lab, which is a white room containing the running shoes in a distant glass box. Users were able to virtually explore the shoes along with being fed information and features of the shoes, such as materials used. 

Although this is groundbreaking technology and a new way of working, it does come with its disadvantages and advantages. The type of technology that is needed to carry out the launch can be quite hard to get your hands on. In most VR cases, Oculus Quest headsets are used which can be hard to obtain. 

Also getting them to the different types of journalists can be quite tricky too. Smartphones such as some Samsung handsets can arguably be used for VR as they have previously supported VR functionalities and so there is scope for the future.

Asics have stated the repose so far has been widely encouraging, and with that in mind, their media exposure has beaten expectations thanks to the novel way of launching the product. When looking at the bigger picture, there is most definitely an upside to using VR to launch products. 

First, it will reduce the carbon footprint of travelling around the world for product launches which will simultaneously save time and money. From a business angel, many organisations spend enormous amounts of money on events and so using VR technology could help save millions and allow companies to focus on putting that money into technology to help launch their products.

One of the obvious downsides to launching a product via VR technology, of course, is that users are not able to demo the product or physically touch it. This does mean that there is less scope to scrutinise the product, but then there is less scope to boast about parts of the product that the company may not have mentioned. 

There is also the small issue of the technology itself. VR is still relatively new and has some restrictions without wide accessibility. Organisations looking to invest in product launches via VR will most definitely need to consider uses and its struggling other factors.

There is no knowledge of the precise scope of where the technology can go in the future and its full potential. Still, the importance of moving in a direction towards using technology to our advantages is promising. 

This particular launch by Asics demonstrates a world where social distancing will be the new normal for months and years to come. As covid-19 continues to sweep across the globe, there's no doubt that more businesses will look into using VR technology to help their businesses fly virtually. 

Digital marketing, as we know today, could be a thing of the past. The adoption of VR could birth new ways of marketing, along with the creation of new technologies in the near future.