Today’s consumers love their phones. They also love experiences, and these consumers aren’t putting down their mobile devices any time soon. When consumers share their experiences with the world via social media, it can generate buzz and make brands a hit overnight. As a result, brands are starting to figure out how much consumers love to experience the world through the lens of their phones. So how are brands capturing consumers’ attention and delivering an experience that doesn’t require looking away from the screen? Two words: Augmented Reality (AR).
By altering the way we see the world through the screen of a phone, social media giants like Snapchat and Instagram are already using AR strategies to influence their users. From AR Snapchat Original shows to selling shoes and furniture through interactive experiences, we can’t help but wonder if these strategies are successful for large brands due to their already well-established followings. Understanding what AR is while finding practical applications for it in your industry may not be as easy as it sounds if you’re not on the same level as the competition.
Before we dive into how you can use AR, let’s talk about what it is.
What exactly is AR?
Augmented reality implements computer-generated imagery and information that overlays real-world environments via your smartphone, tablet, or AR glasses. To put it in layman terms, AR alters the world you see—as long as you’re looking at it through a screen.
When industries advertise products, services, and brands through AR, things appear as if they’re actually there. As AR technology continues to develop, brands are finding new ways of constructing augmented reality imagery with experiential marketing strategies. Whether it’s optimizing customer engagement, personalizing your shopping experience, or watching a tv show that augments reality through a Snapchat lens, AR is taking off.
Forecasting the future of AR
According to a Forbes report, the future of VR and AR in retail will reach $1.6 billion by 2025. That means companies are beginning to rapidly adopt these technologies so that they can sell products even faster. If industries haven’t started integrating AR into their sales process, they may fall behind. How they do that is a different story. We get it; it’s a new-age strategy. How you use it could influence the future of your business. Several industry powerhouses have already hit their AR stride in the marketing world.
Who’s doing what in the world of AR
From Snapchat seemingly dominating the world of AR to the furniture and automotive industries making their products more interactive, augmented reality is a hot trend across the board. So, who’s standing out?
Social media giants
Snapchat is literally changing the world as we see it. Using their various AR lenses, they’ve partnered with a mixture of industry leaders to push the augmented envelope. From using LA billboards that preview two of their Snap Originals shows to partnering with Chipotle to run a campaign where Area 51 aliens deliver burritos, Snapchat is undoubtedly doing a lot.
Snapchat is also influential in how they use augmented reality to build interactive experiences. Just this past Halloween, the social networking app debuted six different Halloween lenses designed by six different lens creators. These new lenses kept users engaged and wondering what would come next by adding a significant amount of excited anticipation in the days leading up to Halloween. Like we said before—today’s users love experiences. And making your AR strategy interactive also upgrades your experiential marketing approach.
Even Instagram is getting in on the action. The Facebook-owned social media platform is currently piloting an AR shopping experience for different brands’ checkout process. From Ray-Ban and Warby Parker to Mac and NARS Cosmetics, shoppers can virtually try on different colors and styles while looking at themselves on a phone. Instagram’s variation picker within its camera allows shoppers to choose which style suits them best. From there, they can buy the product directly in their Instagram camera app and be styled out in no time.
As pioneers in the world of virtual shopping, Snapchat and Instagram are leading the social media industry in a whole new direction of sharing and curating personal style.
The furniture industry: putting couches in your room without hiring help
According to a Forbes report, 61% of U.S. adults say augmented reality influences where they buy their home décor. Industry leaders like Ikea and Wayfair both have mobile apps that bring 3D models of their furniture into your home. You can use their mobile app to move the furniture around and see where it fits best. You can even slide it through doorways to find out the best way is to get it inside.
With AR, your clients will never have to hire a mover again and learn the hard way that their new sofa doesn’t quite fit the way they thought it would.
The fashion industry: new virtual threads
We’ve already mentioned how consumers can try on new glasses and makeup via social media. But online clothing retailers also have “try-and-buy” features on their websites. Here, customers can try on the fit of their clothes via smartphone. No matter where they are, they can find the right color, style, or size. Not to mention, stores can save precious product space and aren’t constrained to the limits of a physical store.
But phones aren’t the only way you can use AR. The storefronts of brands like Timberland let you tap into augmented reality before you even walk through the door. The outdoor lifestyle brand created a virtual fitting room using kinetic motion-sensing technology that detects when shoppers walking by the storefront pass in front of a screen. Shoppers’ faces will then pop-up on the mirror-like display where they can then see how different virtual outfits will look on them. Say goodbye to dimly lit dressing rooms and burdensome lines—customers can try on new threads without ever taking off the clothes they’re already wearing.
The car industry: automotive safety reaches a new level
Augmented reality isn’t just about selling stuff—it’s about making things safer, too. Vehicles from Mercedes, BMW, and Land Rover are already integrating AR into their heads-up displays (HUD). By adding a visual layer of data to what drivers see in their windshields while driving, they can safely obtain the information they need without taking their eyes off the road.
American car manufacturer GMC will also offer an AR option called Transparent Trailer Rear Camera View for their 2020 GMC Sierra. This feature allows drivers to see what’s behind the trailer that they’re towing by superimposing camera footage onto your dashboard screen.
As self-driving cars become more of a reality every day, big tech is also getting in on the action. From Apple to Google’s parent company Alphabet, the evolution of automotive technology is something to watch. And augmented reality is sure to have a role.
How to implement AR in your industry
The question isn’t whether augmented reality is the future. It’s determining how you can use it for your industry today. You don’t necessarily need to sell furniture, fashion, or cars. There’s plenty of different ways you can use AR and make it your own.
1. Try before they buy
Similar to furniture and fashion industries, augmented reality is about making something feel as if it’s right in front of someone. Whatever you’re selling, you want them to think that what they’re buying is attainable. Let customers see their image staring back at them while virtually wearing, using, or sitting on your product.
2. Augment active information
Creating an AR app and making additional information on sales and product location more accessible saves both you and the customer time. Customers can use a smartphone or tablet in your store and look through the aisles with augmented projections of sales.
3. Create videos and go social
By partnering with social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram, you can create buzz around your brand overnight. By launching a well-designed social or interactive video experience, you can use these instrumental platforms to build a successful brand. Maybe you want to create a tv show that can only be viewed through Snapchat. Or perhaps you want to implement AR experiences that people can watch live. Whichever it is, you can generate millions of views on platforms like Youtube and Instagram.
4. Leave your mark on materials
If you’re a real estate agent with a business card or sell lots of physical materials, augmenting them makes them more user-interactive. Hand someone an AR brochure, and they can then scan physically printed codes with their phones to obtain more information on your brand. This strategy heightens their engagement and makes your brand more memorable.
5. Advertising through AR
Sometimes targeted ads are the first experience a potential customer has of your brand. If they’re able to engage these ads through AR, it makes your brand memorable and leaves them with something they’ll never forget. And chances are they’ll tell their friends and family about your AR advertisement after the fact.
Establish your place in the market with AR
In the end, AR is helpful for everyone, across industries. It can engage the masses with experiential marketing strategies and tv shows while helping companies sell things faster, and consumers buy products quicker. How you implement AR in your industry can provide more engaging user experiences and boost your business. By exploring the ways consumers experience the world through a lens, you can deliver an experience that makes your brand a hit overnight.