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Augmented reality is seeing wider adoption in marketing strategies for both traditional and online retail. Discover why and in what ways AR is taking off.
Augmented reality is seeing wider adoption in marketing strategies for retail both in-store and online. This is in part thanks to advances in technology, but more so connected to the rapidly evolving behaviors and needs of today’s consumers. Along these lines, brands are developing marketing strategies with AR to meet these demands, generate buzz for their brands and promotional efforts, and to exploit augmented reality for B2B sales.
While augmented reality for online retail and e-commerce is one industry in which AR excels, it is also becoming more and more common in traditional, print and in-store product marketing strategies. Online strategies for AR most often involve providing online shoppers with an interactive and more informative product experience, and the same is true when leveraging AR off-line.
The list of AR shopping apps is growing, as are the use cases for AR in digital marketing. It’s important, however, to zoom out and examine the role of AR in general marketing strategies, where and how it’s utilized and what this might mean in terms of generating revenue.
The first use case for AR in marketing involves augmenting the product experience.
In-store, potential shoppers have fitting rooms to try on clothes, samples for products like cosmetics, electronics on display, or the ability to take a new car out for a test-drive. The list of ways shoppers can experience different products goes on and on, and it revolves around one of the most essential and effective sales strategies — satisfying shoppers’ curiosity.
With augmented reality, the in-store product experience can be replicated and brought to life in virtual form. Many AR shopping apps of 2020 allow shoppers to experiment with a wide range of products, from furniture to cosmetics, clothes, footwear and more, all without leaving the comfort of the home.
Along these same lines, for retailers AR eliminates the need for a large physical inventory, and it also allows retailers to streamline a much wider catalogue of products to shoppers to try on, sample, or experiment with and compare against similar products.
Another innovative way AR is taking shape in marketing is in augmenting venue tours and additional information or support for customers.
Augmented reality creates the potential to implement a digital component in physical locations and on physical products. In this way, by scanning a QR code either on a product or at a location, customers can receive information about the product or find additional promotional material and brand-related experiences.
AR is crossing over to numerous industries because of this, going beyond use cases solely for product marketing. Take for example StubHub, a leading ticket marketplace who utilized an AR application to support Super Bowl fans in choosing their seats in the stadium. By augmenting the venue, Stubhub provided customers with a virtual view of the stadium so they could visualize the view from different seating locations and find the best seat for them.
Other examples of this include Starbucks, who now provides the digital experience of touring one of their cafes, or Hyundai and Mercedes in the automobile industry. Hyundai is now the first to incorporate AR in drivers’ manuals, while Mercedes is now exploring an AI-assistant with an interface powered by augmented reality.
AR can also bring traditional print materials like packaging, brochures and even business cards to the next level.
LEGO is one prime example of using AR on packaging and for catalogues, allowing customers to scan a code and see what’s inside the package or on the catalogue page come to life. In this way, LEGO can demonstrate how dynamic moving parts operate, and users can see and interact with a life-like virtual presentation of the product to learn more and decide if they will make a purchase.
Any branding materials with static text can be enriched with AR. Whether it’s packaging or catalogues like LEGO’s, or even business cards, AR provides a wide scope of new possibilities for branding materials. AR allows marketers to embed videos, manuals, visual instructions or contact links and more directly onto print materials to increase engagement and improve the overall experience.
Augmented reality is generating a lot of buzz for in-direct sales and marketing as well.
In the previous examples, the use cases for AR were more focused on direct tactics to facilitate sales, but brands are also starting to utilize AR experiences to boost brand awareness. AR is still a relatively new and novel concept to many of today’s shoppers, so when brands can create an exciting or unexpected AR experience, it has the potential to generate a lot of buzz and visibility.
Take for instance Pepsi, who created considerable buzz with a random AR app to make waiting for a bus a little more exciting. Users were able to access a virtual window located on the wall of a bus station, and in this window users could see various animations in augmented reality. The application had nothing to do with product marketing, but did wonders for in-direct marketing and ultimately reinforcing their brand image.
In regards to B2B, the customer/vendor experience can be enriched in several ways with augmented reality.
AR allows vendors to create informative and detail-oriented sales presentations for products with complex designs or features that would otherwise require hands-on product presentation. In the past, product presentations might call for informative fliers, brochures or even a video presentation. With AR, these same products can be brought to life in meeting rooms or on showroom floors in real-size for all to see.
Tools and features of AR apps provide customers with the ability to manipulate, customize and gain insights on products. Particularly, for larger or heavy-duty machinery and equipment that is complicated and costly to transport, augmented reality becomes a considerable advantage for B2B presentations and marketing. The same is true for the customization options that become available, with customers often seeking specifically tailored products and solutions.
Along these lines, with augmented reality, customers can actively participate in the design process. Input can be directly communicated to the vendor, creating an overall more frictionless chain of feedback while also ensuring clients receive exactly what they need and that vendors can provide this to them in a constructive and timely manner.
For the right businesses, augmented reality might very well deserve more attention in the marketing strategies of 2020. This is particularly true for branding, customer service, generating buzz or in B2B sales. While still a relatively novel concept, the potential now exists for forward-thinking businesses to leverage this emerging and exciting mobile tech to improve their customers’ experience, create more opportunities and generate more sales.