VR: Who’s Using it? When? And How

ARtillry’s latest intelligence briefing examines original survey data. Preview the report, subscribe to access it in full, or purchase a la carte.

Executive Summary

How do consumers feel about VR? Who’s using it? What devices and apps do they prefer? And what do they want to see next? Perhaps more important, what are non-users’ reasons for disinterest? And how can VR software developers and hardware players optimize product strategies accordingly?

These are key questions at VR’s early stages that we set out to answer. Working closely with Thrive Analytics, ARtillry Intelligence wrote questions to be presented to more than 1,900 U.S. adults in Thrive’s established consumer survey engine. And we’ve analyzed the results in a narrative report.

This follows last August’s ARtillry Intelligence Briefing, which examined the same survey questions. Wave II of the research now emboldens our understanding and brings new insights and trend data to light. There are also notable parallels in these results to our sister report on AR, published in April.

So what did we find out? At a high level, eleven percent of consumers surveyed have bought or used a VR headset, up from eight percent in 2017. More importantly, VR users indicate high levels of satisfaction with the experience: 65 percent of respondents report moderate or extreme satisfaction.

However, it’s not all good news: Non-VR users report relatively low likelihood of VR adoption – 31 percent, down from 41 percent in 2017 – and explicit lack of interest. This downward trend in interest is concerning for VR but isn’t surprising given the dip in excitement we’ve anecdotally observed.

Moreover, the disparity between current-user satisfaction and non-user disinterest underscores a key challenge for VR: you have to “see it to believe it.” In order to reach high satisfaction levels, VR has to first be tried. This presents marketing and logistical challenges for the industry to push that first taste.

Put another way, VR’s highly visual and immersive format is a double-edged sword. It can create strong affinities and high engagement levels. But the visceral nature of its experience can’t be communicated to prospective users with traditional marketing such as ad copy or even video.

The same challenge was evident in our corresponding AR report, but mobile AR’s barriers to adoption are lower. This is nonetheless a common challenge for immersive technologies. It will take time, acclimation and price reductions before they reach a more meaningful share of the consumer public.

Meanwhile, there are strategies to accelerate that process, and to market VR more effectively. We’ll examine those strategies in the coming pages, through the lens of consumers’ explicit sentiments, actions and desires. This is meant to empower readers with a greater knowledge position.


Introduction:  A Snapshot

In VR’s early stages it’s important to understand consumer behavior and desires in order to optimize product strategies. We kicked off this process last Summer with a first wave of VR survey research. Now, a second wave of data buttresses our knowledge position, and brings new trend data to light.

Working closely with our data partner Thrive Analytics, ARtillry Intelligence wrote questions to present to a sample of more than 1,900 U.S. adult consumers. This represents the second wave of Thrive’s Virtual Reality Monitor. Now that the results are in, we’ll dive into the implications and takeaways.

These survey results are a telling snapshot of VR adoption, which we’ll detail in the coming pages. That will include charts and a narrative story arc that unpacks strategic takeaways, and our outlook for consumer VR. But before we take that deeper dive, here’s a highlight reel of survey findings.

11% of respondents own or have tried VR, up from 8% last year.
*% of users own or use Samsung Gear VR, followed by PSVR (*%) and Oculus Rift (*%).
*% of users are extremely satisfied with VR, *% are moderately satisfied.
*% of users are extremely dissatisfied with VR, *% are moderately dissatisfied.
*% of Vive users show strong satisfaction, *% for Rift and *% for PSVR.
*% of users want more content, *% want better content and *% want better functionality.
*% of non-VR users are interested in owning or trying VR, down from *% last year.
*% of disinterested non-VR users cited “just not interested” as the reason.
*% of all respondents wouldn’t pay more than $200 for a VR headset.

*Subscribe to see the full data set

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ARtillry Intelligence has partnered with Thrive Analytics by writing the questions for the Virtual Reality Monitor consumer survey. These questions were fielded to 1,959 U.S. Adults. Additionally, ARtillry Intelligence wrote this report, which contains its own insights and viewpoints on the survey results.

For any market sizing, ARtillry Intelligence follows disciplined best practices in market sizing and forecasting, developed and reinforced through its principles’ 15 years in research and intelligence in the tech sector. This includes the past 2.5 years covering AR & VR exclusively, as seen in research reports and daily reporting.

Thrive Analytics likewise follows best practices in consumer research, developed over its long tenure as a consumer research firm. More information and background on each firm can be seen at the above links and ARtillry’s disclosure and ethics statement is below.

Price: $599 (w/ analyst briefing) $399 (w/o briefing)

This 80-slide report is available by subscribing to ARtillry PRO, or purchasing a la carte. The individual report price is $599. including a briefing with the report’s author to discuss takeaways and answer any questions you may have. It can also be purchased without a briefing for $399.


Disclosure and Ethics Statement

ARtillry has no financial stake in the companies mentioned in this report, nor received payment for its production. With respect to market sizing, ARtillry remains independent of players and practitioners in the sectors it covers. It doesn’t perform paid services or consulting for such companies, thus mitigating bias — real or perceived — in market sizing and industry revenue projections. Disclosure and ethics policy can be seen in full here.

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