Does augmented reality have a future in mainstream marketing? And will it replace more traditional techniques? Yes – but not quite yet…
AR, not to be confused with VR (Virtual Reality), is the act of placing digital effects over footage in real-time (think Faceswap or Pokemon Go, and less 3D goggles). Several industries have already begun to embrace this new wave of marketing potential.
The most prominent in our opinion are clothing, make-up and furniture brands, including AR ‘try-it’ programs on their sites.
Brands like Sephora allow customers to try before they buy, without the inconvenience of travelling to a store, purchasing a product, and then having the potential buyer’s remorse. It works by the customer simply putting themselves on camera, and having the augmented reality ‘paste’ the makeup onto their image, giving an accurate preview of what they will look like with the selected makeup applied. A slick way of incorporating engagement and also filling a very practical service to prospective customers. Additionally, the data collected by Sephora can give enlightening statistics as to what products are performing well, and which are not, potentially before even stocking shelves. This can be classed as an ‘everybody wins’ scenario in our view.
Joining the wave, Ikea has made the genius move of utilizing a try before you buy feature on their sites, by allowing customers to virtually place their furniture into their homes to see how it looks first. By reducing inconvenience, brands utilizing AR are effectively adding value to their customers time, and the novelty of it all helps to drive engagement.
However, AR relies on customers at least having a smartphone and the inconvenience will mean that most likely smaller and less expensive goods won’t be being represented by AR marketplaces anytime soon. Also, the very fact that a lot of the non-utility driving uses for AR, live and die on novelty value, which is a finite resource. The software is also left rather wide open to potential privacy breaches that come with (relatively) younger tech systems. Additionally, there will always be some customers that just will not be able to work the tech itself and not bother with it at all.
Overall, AR in marketing is showing major promise in certain sectors, but still has a journey to go before it can hope to be used in all aspects of advertisement. However, as augmented reality technology gets more advanced and even more crucially, reliable, we can expect to see a host of new AR marketing strategies, in the near future.
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