We have well and truly entered the age of augmented reality. From beauty brands to automotives, there isn’t an industry that isn’t using AR to market their products.
AR may be a fairly new tool, but it should be included in your marketing plan, especially as we step into 2020.
We explain how AR has changed the face of digital marketing, and will continue to do so in the coming years.
While many think of augmented reality as existing solely in the digital realm, it has had an impact on the physical in-store experience.
Brands have used AR technology to allow in-store customers to have an enhanced experience.
Customers are asked to download the brand’s mobile app which includes an AR function—simply point the AR-powered camera at a product and the customer receives more details about it.
This enhancement through AR gives customers the freedom to find out more about the products they are interested in without having to look for a salesperson for help.
AR is guaranteeing customers the kind of autonomy that will make their retail experience much more fruitful and will help them make smarter purchases, leading to brand loyalty.
The automotive industry has taken AR marketing to heart by combining the AR experience with live demonstrations of a product.
Not so long ago, if a customer wanted to see the inside of a car during a launch ceremony, or in a showroom, the automotive brand would have to bring a physical car to the event.
That is no longer the case—brands simply need to bring a chassis to an event now and use AR to create a complete demonstration.
Plus, these AR demonstrations can also show users the internal workings of a car, which would not have been possible otherwise.
With the use of AR, brands are now able to go beyond the physical limitations of their product, thus giving users a more wholesome experience.
Augmented reality can be an expensive proposition but a short campaign, like the one Timberland used for their store display is well worth the investment.
And Timberland weren’t the only ones to use AR for advertising—Huawei, Pepsi, and Burger King have all incorporated AR into outdoor advertising, including on bus shelters, and billboards.
AR ads are immersive, but more importantly, they are engaging—customers tend to walk by a standard advertising display, but an AR ad makes them stop and take notice.
The use of AR in outdoor advertising will lead to improvements in engagement and brand awareness.
Beyond advertising displays, physical collaterals can give users an enhanced shopping experience with the use of AR.
Brands are implementing codes in company brochures that instantly play relevant videos on a mobile phone and share more features about the item.
These codes can also open secondary apps—like Google maps or Google calendar—with information about location or store timings.
A single piece of collateral—with well-integrated web design—now has the power to share so much more with the addition of AR.
Try Before You Buy
The most popular use of AR is in the ‘try before you buy’ arena.
While this is hardly a new concept—many companies offer sample sizes to be tried before purchasing—AR has changed how customers can try out products.
A number of furniture brands have successfully created AR apps that allow customers to ‘place’ an AR version of a product in their home so they can decide whether the product is the right fit.
Clothing and shoe companies give people the option of trying on clothes in virtual fitting rooms, both in-store and at home. This helps them decide whether an outfit or pair of shoes suits them.
The same goes for beauty brands, which have seen massive success in employing AR technology to get qualified leads.
Brands like L’Oreal, Sephora, and Sally Hansen all offer apps where people can try on different shades of make-up or hair colour. They can then save the picture to share with friends.
With the use of AR, customers now have the ability to try out a variety of products, many of which they would not have entertained because of the lack of context to their actual lives.
Plus, because customers are virtually trying out the products, the chances that an item will be returned is also decreasing. In the long run, this leads to greater brand loyalty.
Launch events, company gatherings, anniversary celebrations—all companies want their fans to join in the fun, but physical spaces simply cannot accommodate such large crowds.
At the same time, brands don’t want their events to appear as exclusive events where only a select few can attend.
This conundrum is easily solved by incorporating AR in the event planning model.
Brands can have their customers and fans join them in an event through AR apps or through an AR experience on their website.
This will give customers the opportunity to participate and engage with the brand, without the company having to concern themselves with additional overheads.
With the popularity of Pokemon Go, it isn’t surprising that a number of brands have decided to use AR to gamify their digital marketing.
Gamification is a great way to involve your potential customers in an experience that doesn’t come across as branded.
The user can opt to join an AR contest for their own enjoyment, but will actually be participating in a brand marketing campaign.
In this way, companies can reach more users, without having to advertise to them—and chances are that the user will remember the brand even after the game is completed.
Augmented reality may have started off as the lowly cousin of virtual reality, but its practical applications have far exceeded its intended purpose.
Brands have already found several innovative ways to use augmented reality in their digital marketing campaigns, thus earning them more customers and seeing high conversion rates.
Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, an infographic maker and design platform. She writes extensively about marketing, being productive, pop culture, and the importance of diversity.
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