The catalyst for virtual and augmented reality: that is how the majority of tech analysts describe Covid -19.
You all have seen this meme probably:
It would be more than trivial to repeat this: COVID changed the very rules by which marketers were playing. All offline activities and marketing channels, like conferences or billboards at the airports, turned out to be useless for demand generation.
That is why marketers decided to experiment and finally try any new technology they felt skeptical about. Check this recent Shopify tweet. It sounds like an epiphany!
The keyword here is "interaction", but I believe, marketers will only see this staggering number. And this number tells us that the time for AR has come.
Augmented reality (AR) opens up a wide range of opportunities:
More than that, the customers are ready for this new "tech" experience at last: they actually expect brands to be more creative and immersive according to Forrester.
This tech analyst edition predicts that the exploration of AR & VR will increase by up to 12% in the US in 2021.
Have you heard about a "try before you buy" approach powered with AR? Experiences created with augmented reality apps (downloaded on a smartphone) or webXR (opened in a browser) can help clients feel, see, listen, explore, and TRY products, of course.
A new sofa, a pair of earrings, or a picture that is supposed to decorate the kitchen. All these goods can be previewed in 3D/AR in any size, any color, and with the tiniest details. More than that, using AR apps marketers can provide their clients with the fullest catalog of goods collected in one place.
One AR app can contain 300K SKUs or 100 best models accessible anytime and anywhere.
That is why brands that sell tangible objects today tend to create realistic 3D models of their goods and sell them online.
It can be curious, but the "try before you buy" trend is taking a slightly different path with social media filters.
Brands like L'Oreal encourage their clients to experiment with "virtual makeup" during video calls. So AR filters are migrating from the domain of "fun" to the domain of "self-expression." After all, using AR filters is empowering, creative, and emotional!
With augmented reality apps brands can bring any products to life and help clients interact with them.
Engaging with products' packaging or labels through AR is much more entertaining and emotionally saturated for customers than just consuming goods and recycling plastic/paper/galss. The more users interact with products, the more connection with the brand they create.
Don't forget that great stories always attract people, especially if stories are communicated in a sincere and logical manner.
Although we have no firm evidence of storytelling before the advent of writing, we can assume that narratives have been central to human life for thousands of years. BBC
Take this recent narrative of the 19 Crimes brand by Snoop Dogg for example.
Creating this easy to use AR app, 19 Crimes communicates to their customers using visual images and appealing to our biggest need to learn about brands values and ... to hear stories.
In our post-Covid world visiting shopping malls looks like a challenge and entertainment at the same time. The majority of customers will prefer to stay at home rather than go to a faraway place to try clothes and shoes.
Augmented reality is here to help you with remote buying by defining perfect sizes.
Some time ago Nike announced that they are creating an augmented reality application that can measure every single client's foot individually capturing size, shape, and volume. The application works in the following way: data received in the process of measurement is compared to data received from people of similar sizes.
And voila! The perfect shoe for each client is chosen.
The same can be done for clothes, and some brands are starting experiments.
Augmented reality apps can also be used for navigation, they are literally created for that! These apps can help shoppers find their way around big shopping malls, stadiums, or even cities. Imagine not wasting all this time on the orientation in an unfamiliar location!
After all, in the world paralyzed by Covid, the period of interaction with goods inside any store is limited. It is not really clear when offline retail will get back to normal but Forbes experts think that the pattern for "social distancing" will remain for a long time.
So the creators of such solutions, as the one described by TechCrunch, will definitely gain popularity. These are AR apps for indoor navigation.
I believe augmented reality is gaining popularity simply because it brings value to the customers in difficult times. It provides clients with more accurate visual information that they need so much.
And that is probably the most important reason to use it in marketing. After all, as David Ogilvy used to say:
“The consumer isn't a moron; she is your wife. You insult her intelligence if you assume that a mere slogan and a few vapid adjectives will persuade her to buy anything. She wants all the information you can give her.”
AR turns out to be so much more than slogans, leaflets, or catalogues on websites.
AR apps can serve as guides in unfamiliar locations making shopping more comfortable and less risky. Apps with augmented reality can help to avoid buyer's remorse by showing trying products in the comfort of people's homes. More than that, it is now possible to create perfect products using AR for 3D avatars creation.