Augmented reality (AR) is transforming the way brands market to shoppers. Forward-thinking brands have capitalized on this opportunity, using the technology to reach shoppers in new, innovative, and immersive ways.
National brands have discovered the power of AR, and offered memorable experiences to their shoppers in order to drive deeper engagement. Whether it’s through pop-up screens, superimposed graphics and animations or real simulations, AR can help brands connect with them on a different level.
There are a number of benefits to using AR in retail:
- Strengthen brand loyalty: Show unique features of your products that increase brand transparency and influence purchase decisions.
- Drive shopper engagement: Immersive games and activities or 3D altered environments allows shoppers to interact with your brand in new and exciting ways.
- Motivate purchase: Present promotions and coupons to shoppers at the point of purchase to drive more sales.
- Increase the WOW factor: Adding immersive experiences can “wow” shoppers, which will encourage them to share your brand with others on social media and in real life.
- Attract and convert shoppers: Providing unique features that shoppers can’t find elsewhere increases brand perception and makes you stand out from the competition.
The Emergence of AR in Retail
Augmented reality (AR) technology integrates digital information with the physical environment, live and in real-time. It has even taken a central role in the shopping experience in recent years, and retailers are exploring new ways to utilize this technology. With investments in AR expected to reach $105 billion by 2020, it is clear that it is worth exploring for the modern retailer.
As it stands, the combined market size of augmented and virtual reality is expected to reach $209 billion, with AR to acquire 1 billion users by 2020. The culture shift is apparent, with nearly 75% of shoppers saying they now expect retailers to offer them some kind of AR experience. This type of visualization is designed to enhance the way they shop.
There are a number of major brands who have adopted AR to provide immersive experiences in their niche spaces. These include furniture, home improvement, clothing, food and beverage, beauty and more. Every brand operating in these verticals have reported positive results with the implementation of AR. In fact, brands taking advantage of this technology are estimated to satisfy more customers in the long term.
5 Brands Using AR to Drive Shopper Engagement
These top brands utilize AR to market to their shoppers, experiencing high levels of effectiveness and engagement:
1. IKEA – IKEA Place
IKEA uses their IKEA Place app to help shoppers visualize furniture in their home before purchasing it. This helps them determine whether the piece will be a good fit for the space, color themes and other design elements. Currently, shoppers have the ability to virtually place about 3,200 IKEA products into their homes to experiment with furniture from the retailer through 3D renderings. Once selected, users can then reserve the product within the app.
To work, users must select the product and point their camera at an empty spot in the room to determine what the furniture will look like in the surrounding area. Through AR, IKEA provides an additional level of engagement by allowing shoppers to reimagine their spaces without the initial expense.
2. BIC – Kids DrawyBook app
BIC, manufacturer of ballpoint pens, leveraged the power of AR to appeal to its younger shoppers. Combining an app and activity book, BIC’s Kids DrawyBook app allows children to make their drawings come alive and experience the interactive story of Marty and the Alien through augmented reality.
Since implementing this technology may require a large financial investment up front, retailers can follow BIC’s lead by undertaking a smaller AR initiative. This allows you to test how well it resonates with your target audience without great risk.
3. Lowe’s – Vision: In-Store Navigation app
To optimize the in-store shopping experience, Lowe’s paired AR with geolocation technology to make it more efficient – and fun – to find products in the store. With their in-store navigation app, shoppers can create lists within the mobile app, which will give them turn-by-turn digital directions to find the products they need using the quickest route possible. In this way, Lowe’s uses AR to solve a common challenge for shoppers, which can boost engagement.
4. L’Oreal – ModiFace
With its recent acquisition of Modiface, a leader in beauty augmented reality and artificial intelligence, L’Oreal is rolling out a new service that brings the makeup counter experience to shoppers’ mobile devices. It combines AR and live-streaming technologies to provide shoppers with a digital beauty assistant that helps with the virtual “trying-on” of products.
It’s currently being trialed with its NYX beauty brand, connecting shoppers with beauty professionals via a face-to-face call that is made within the NYX app. The makeup artist at the other end can ‘test’ products on a user’s face via a series of AR filters that are applied in real-time. From there, shoppers can purchase products and book future appointments to receive more help from the beauty assistant on how to use them.
5. Red Bull – Extreme mountain bike AR experience
Red Bull is no stranger to the AR space. They used gamification in a partnership with Snapchat to offer shoppers exclusive AR features. In this particular experience, users could scan the packaging on limited-edition cans using their phone’s camera, which would allow them to pitch a virtual baseball to Chicago Cubs star Kris Bryant. In their new extreme mountain bike experience, the brand allowed users to watch terrifying stunts at Red Bull Rampage up close and personal. Using AR and 360-video, users could watch the event and interact with a 3D model of the course within the Red Bull TV app.
AR offers a host of new and innovative ways for brands to reach, engage and convert shoppers. By using this new technology, retailers can connect with their target audience on a deeper level, allowing them to try on virtual products, re-imagine home and office spaces, experience live events, and more. This helps build brand awareness and drive engagement on a deeper level, which can result in brand loyalty.
Assess your brand and determine how you can incorporate similar AR experiences into your marketing strategy to offer this growing trend of interactive technology to your shoppers. This will help you meet their expectations, as well as stand out from the competition – giving you the opportunity to enhance and elevate brand perception now and in the future.