Augmented reality is a technology that has been known to larger audiences for only a few years, but its growth in business and marketing is massive and impactful.
Companies ranging from small businesses to huge corporations can gain a tremendous advantage in the market by implementing augmented reality when the digital and the real world need to work together to improve the customer experience.
And with the recent launch of ARKit by Apple, creating augmented reality experiences are going to be increasingly more available to the wider masses.
However, this type of marketing is relatively new and unknown to many, which is why our guide is here to help you get to know your options with AR. Let’s get started!
What is Augmented Reality?
Essentially, augmented reality (AR) combines data from the physical world with the one created digitally; it’s the overlay information onto the real world. It allows users to see virtual items or information while looking at real-life objects.
As opposed to virtual reality that creates an imaginary reality and complete, immersive environments that simulate situations by activating vision and hearing, augmented reality leverages existing reality and layers computer-generated enhancements over it.
This makes the reality more meaningful through the ability to interact with it.
Augmented reality can be delivered in many different ways, from devices like Microsoft Hololens to being used more and more in mobile devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets.
Still unsure of what it is? Some of the most widely known examples of augmented reality are Snapchat’s lenses in selfie mode that move based on your facial expressions, or the famous Pokémon Go mobile game that caused people to walk for miles in order to find Pokémon characters that showed up on their mobile screens just like they were real.
Now let’s look at the ways AR can create an advantage for marketers and businesses!
Benefits for business and marketing
Now, I know what you may be thinking: how can this help my business? Let’s look at some benefits and opportunities to grow, after which we’ll look at some real-life business examples that are already setting some companies apart from their competitors.
AR bridges the gap between physical and virtual. Compared to the belief of many, the cost of technology required to implement AR to improve your audience’s experience isn’t out of reach for businesses any longer. Yet so many haven’t given it a chance yet, and because it gives a physical feel to a virtual experience, it can give an incredible competitive advantage to businesses competing in such a digital world.
AR offers opportunities for personalisation. Everyone’s experience with augmented reality is going to be different that the other person’s, making a strong point with individually tailored solutions and unique engagement. As people, we’re dealing with hundreds of pieces of content and advertising every day, and personalised content is the one that stands out!
AR allows for better customer service. Practically any industry that has physical products that can visually be placed in a person’s life – good example is the home decor industry – can be enriched with augmented reality. Being able to assist your customers better and help them visualise the end result with your product has an incredible benefit for the brand reputation and bottom line!
AR increases retention with interactivity. Just like virtual reality, augmented reality enhances engagement with the content and makes it immersive. This type of content is known to retain readers, viewers, subscribers and customers longer by drawing them in and creating a full experience, rather than simply offering a monotonous piece of content.
AR helps create new, more dynamic and more relatable content that gets more virality. With such a unique, noticeable technology, AR offers a lot more chances to surprise your customers, create the buzz and the word of mouth. Augmented reality has an edge over other, less dimensional content and has a better shot of resonating with the consumer.
Examples of use
Augmented reality is taking the interactivity of digital marketing and applying it into the real world. This is where the opportunity for businesses lies.
Here are some potential uses for AR:
- Clothing brands can create virtual fitting rooms for online shopping
- Furniture stores can place virtual furniture inside of homes
- Beauty brands can let their customers try on different hairstyles, hair colours, and make up products
The opportunities are almost endless; the key is to enhance the existing reality in order to add real value.
Let’s look at some examples of companies who have successfully used augmented reality in their marketing and solved some key issues they were dealing with in their business.
The most recent example and definitely the most widely popular one is IKEA’s Place app that allows its users to virtually place IKEA product in their own home in augmented reality mode so they can see how a piece of furniture would fit, even including details like lighting and shadows. Brilliant! See the video here.
Ray Ban launched the Virtual Mirror. This app’s purpose is to map any pair of sunglasses you choose onto your face using your smartphone’s camera. With high-priced sunglasses, you definitely don’t want to risk buying a pair that doesn’t suit you – this app solved the problem!
Cover Girl launched a BeautyU app. Same thing – the app allows the customer to try on different colours, shades and complete looks before buying. Again, this lowers the risk of buying a product that doesn’t suit the exact skin tone or eye colour, which increases the trust in a brand. Have a look at the video:
Dulux launched the free Visualizer mobile app. It allows consumers to virtually repaint their walls with a mobile device. Another high-risk action – painting a wall into a colour you may not necessarily like – has been turned into an easy decision by allowing the customer to see what their walls will look like when repainted.
The key here is to always look for a problem to solve and to know what value AR is able to bring to the customer!
Have we given you enough to start brainstorming your possibilities with augmented reality? The chances are, your competitors are still not on board with it, and there is an opportunity for you to set yourself apart and create incredible experiences to your existing and potential customers.
Do you have any ideas on the use of AR in your business? Let us know!