Augmented reality (AR) is one of the top trends of the digital age. AR allows virtual elements to transcend into real-life environments through immersive technology, usually through screens or headsets. Despite its novelty, the technology is already being implemented in various fields, including education and business.
In fact, Futurum’s 2021 survey tells us that 69% of customers expect to use AR as they shop in the next two years. As AR’s growth becomes inevitable, it’s important that companies start considering AR in their business procedures — particularly their marketing strategies — in order to stay ahead of the competition.
Below, let’s take a closer look at how AR can be integrated into your business’s marketing strategy.
It was across the 50s, 60s, and 70s that VR and AR technology first began to come into public consciousness — the first VR machine, Sensorama, came out in 1956; the first VR headset with motion tracking technology, the Headsight headset, in 1961; and to the first AR headset, “The Sword of Damocles,” in 1968. 1998 would become the pivotal year for AR in the mainstream when Sportsvision broadcasted the first live NFL game with the yellow yard marker.
AR’s history is evidence of its exponential growth. It is reasonable to believe that AR will eventually become an expected facet of modern life, and that customers will naturally look towards a business’ application of AR in order to determine its progress and quality of service. It is thus key that businesses aggressively market their application and integration of AR.
Combining AR and marketing
The IKEA Place app released in 2017 proves the potential of AR in mainstream retail, and showed businesses that combining AR in marketing is a surefire way to boost customer interest, engagement, and convenience. The app allowed customers to virtually ‘place’ furnishings in their space. This tackled consumer concerns about getting the wrong size or wrong color of furniture when shopping online.
When AR began to peak in 2021, IKEA mobile app reached 2.3 million downloads around the globe. It isn’t surprising that many more businesses began to see the usefulness of AR. In the service industry, for example, restaurant and hotel businesses began assimilating AR into their dining experiences. Pizza Hut creatively integrated AR within its menu to allow customers to scan the delivery box and dive into a world of games and trivia.
Even if customers do not follow through with a purchase, AR can contribute to generating website traffic and boosting a business’s relevance. The playground effect of AR technology gives customers more ways to interact with products, and thus gives them more reasons to stay on a platform and explore what is offered. This can spark the interest of other customers who may want to explore unique shopping experiences with your brand.
Integrating AR into a marketing strategy
Because AR is still a developing field, companies must continuously upskill their marketing teams and include AR in their growing arsenal of digital skills. With how creative directors oversee marketing and branding, it is key that they, and other marketing leaders, spearhead the design layout of websites and email campaigns in order to best maximize the benefits that only AR can provide. See how creative director Estella Tse used AR as visual storytelling to connect emotionally with audiences. Her recent app allows users to hover a smartphone over art pieces in Bear Magazine in order to help a virtual illustration of trees come to life. This helps amplify the campaign against climate change and direct individuals towards more environmentally-friendly products.
Tse’s example is one of the swiftest ways to integrate AR into a marketing strategy. Businesses need to simply augment their already existing branding materials, such as brochures, with a virtual component. Shoppers can scan an AR QR code in-store, for example, to access a range of other features. This method is already being used by Porsche in order to direct customers to promotional videos of the Porsche Taycan. Chocolate company Kinder also makes use of AR QR codes to invite customers to a virtual portal into Africa’s safari.
This tells us that creating rich interactive content can come in various formats, depending on what best suits your business. We’ve helped our client Production Systems Automation (PSA) integrate a website, resources app, and demonstration kiosk into their marketing mix after a thorough consultation with our in-house talent team. This augmented reality solution helps them demonstrate their complex products more effectively to potential customers, with their application featuring an option to scan AR targets and manuals.
These examples show us that integrating AR need not alter the brand of a business, but simply enhance it. Marketing leaders must first conduct thorough marketing research on the gaps in their marketing sales in order to analyze how AR will become the solution, and whether they have the capacity to launch this.
written for Vizvibe.com
by Riley Jasmine