Virtual reality product a hit at dealer meeting
“Watch out for that tree!”
You don’t often hear that exclaimed at a dealer meeting inside your favorite resort showroom, but those were exactly the words from Arctic Cat mountain riders Rob Kincaid and David McClure, who were showcasing the brand’s newly launched 360-degree virtual reality experience.
At the 2017 model launch and dealer meeting in Las Vegas, Arctic Cat dealers could hop aboard a sled, strap on a pair of goggles equipped with a Samsung Galaxy and Oculus virtual reality technology, and be in the midst of an epic mountain ride, complete with a 360-degree view of their surroundings. The commentary during the film from the two Arctic Cat athletes (“This is what we do every day!”) only added to the real-life feel of the virtual reality product.
And while Arctic Cat had visions of the product generating interest, company officials were blown away by the number of dealers who opted to purchase the product. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience than can help to generate consumer interest in the brand and product, in this case a pair of M8000 sleds that bounded through the pristine mountain terrain with Kincaid and McClure leading the way on a blue sky day.
“As an experiential marketing company, for us it’s the pathway to building the Arctic Cat brand,” Greg Williamson, chief marketing officer at Arctic Cat, told Powersports Business from the company’s Plymouth, Minn., offices during an interview after the dealer meeting. “We have passionate users, an iconic brand and really cool products, and we’re doing everything we can to bring those things together in an engaging and experiential way.”
And while only two Arctic Cat 360 VR products were available on site, nearly all of the more than 450 dealers in attendance participated. Many of them wanted a piece of the not-so-cheap technology.
“Quite few dealers took us up on the opportunity to purchase the merchandising piece utilizing co-op,” Williamson added.
In April, a new film featuring the Wildcat side-by-side was completed. Dealers who purchased the 360 VR product need only to upload the Wildcat video to see it in 360-degree action.
“Dealers see the (VR) as a marketing tool to drive people into their store to experience virtual reality, regardless of whether or not you’re a snowmobile customer,” Williamson said. “It’s something cool, and they can say they have some real cutting edge technology.”
Plus, it extends the time that customer gets to sit on the sled. And everyone knows that getting someone excited about snowmobiles when they’re sitting on a dealership floor instead of out in the snow itself can be a tall task. And, if a few more younger folks walk into the store to check out the technology, even better.
The technology trail at the dealer meeting didn’t end with the VR 360, however. A new mobile app, Arctic Cat Extreme Snowmobile Racing, also received top billing during the dealer show. Made by Concrete Software, Inc., the app allows the player to ride through a variety of locales, including Cat headquarters of Thief River Falls, Minn., and Jackson Hole, Wyoming, aboard 2017 Arctic Cat snowmobile models. In-app advertising options also can be implemented by Arctic Cat, which has seen tremendous interest in the app since its launch. Its next milestone will be 1 million downloads.
“The response was overwhelming from dealers,” Williamson said. “Dealers were playing it on iPad kiosks that we had set up, and it was projected onto a big screen overhead. It’s something else to target that younger demographic.”
It wasn’t all new-school and high-tech in Vegas, however. Roger Skime, the longtime Arctic Cat snowmobile engineer known for his racing sled acumen, brought some old-school flavor to the festivities. He was honored with the unveiling of the 2017 ZR 6000 RS “Roger Skime” limited edition snowmobile, and signed the first completed model that was revealed in Las Vegas.
“He’s the first employee we’ve ever done something like this for,” Williamson said. “The dealers were emotional in a way because so many of them know him personally. It’s amazing to see how much influence he’s had on our dealer base. They have such great memories of their personal time with him on rides.”
Skime is still actively involved with product design and R&D, building on his legacy as an innovator, pioneer and legend. And now, autograph signer.