Comvita makes a beeline for virtual reality

  • Technology
  • May 2, 2016
  • Holly Bagge
Comvita makes a beeline for virtual reality

New Zealand-based global healthcare brand Comvita has harnessed the power of virtual reality to give Kiwis a glimpse of how it sources its Manuka honey.     

While pairing a healthcare brand with VR might seem incongruent, it somehow seems to work. Once you put on the headset, you're immersed into a footage—shot by Staples Production using a rig of six GoPros hanging from the bottom of a helicopter—of the remote Kaimanawa Ranges, where Comvita sources the honey. 

The footage starts high above the ranges, showcasing the natural beauty of the treetops and the the Mohaka river, all while a narrator tells the story behind the brand.  

The helicopter eventually lands at the hive site, in an untouched corner of New Zealand, where the beekeepers are shown tending and harvesting honey from the hives. One of the best parts of the experience was being put in the position of a beekeeper, looking down with a bird's eye-view, picking up trays and getting close to the swarming bees. It was also surprising to notice the beekeepers had their sleeves rolled up and were handling the trays with bare hands.

While the novelty of VR always makes for an interesting experience, in this instance the quality of the footage simply wasn't good enough to allow for a complete suspension of disbelief. That said, VR campaigns are still in their infancy and the technology will only get better over next few years—especially when considering that the VR and augmented reality market is set to hit $150 billion by 2020.

Comvita chief supply officer Colin Baskin says the brand decided to try out VR as it fits with its purpose in bringing innovation to all corners of the business.

“There is a huge potential for VR to tell the story of where those ingredients come from,” he says.

Baskin says some of Comvita's ingredients are sourced from a marine environment, which also has the potential for a great VR experience and that it’s a great way for consumers in other countries to see where its Manuka honey comes from and the lengths the brand goes to to get it. 

Comvita general manager of ICT Dan Waugh agrees.

“It’s hard to tell our story to customers overseas and this is immersive and the best way we can get them close to the source.”

Several Kiwi brands have given VR and 360-degree video a go over the past year, and while it’s exciting trying VR out the first few times, it’s quickly become apparent that while simple uses of it are exciting now, brands will need to get far more creative with it in the not-so-distant future when the technology becomes more mainstream. But, for now, the novelty stays.  

  • For those that want to give Comvita’s VR experience a go, you can do so at its retail stores at Auckland’s international airport, the Viaduct and Experience Comvita in Paengaroa. 

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  • Opinion
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  • Courtney Devereux
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