With augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) beginning to take hold of the consumer masses, brands have an unprecedented opportunity to grab audiences by pulling them into the product experience with the latest handheld smart devices and headsets.
“Sales of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) devices will reach $1.8 billion in 2018, according to a new report from CCS Insight, which predicts 22 million headsets will be sold this year.” – Steve McCaskill, Tech Radar
Most of us are familiar with augmented reality (AR), which integrates artificial imagery into real-world visuals; examples include apps that allow users to put mustaches on cats or chase ‘invisible’ video game characters across highways.
In the retail world, AR-based marketing is beginning to soar—the result of cutting-edge applications that allow furniture enthusiasts to get a sense of at-home placement before purchase, clothing shoppers to preview their future looks, and makeup lovers to try on any shade they like. By building AR components into branded online content, manufacturers are essentially allowing customers the freedom to “try out” products before purchase, and the tactic is working.
“Digital Bridge shows that 69% of consumers now expect retailers to launch AR apps within the next six months… Further insights from Google show 34% of users say they would use AR while shopping, and 61% say they would prefer to shop stores that offer AR.” – Rachel Arthur, Forbes.com
Meanwhile, virtual reality, or VR, is a completely immersive experience, often requiring some type of headset that puts the user in a 360-degree alternate reality.
In retail, VR applications are being used to bring customers into store recreations where they can “tour” the aisles and select products for purchase—right off the shelves! Moreover, beer companies are “inviting” users into virtual parties, while brands of all types have created their own behind-the-scenes adventures and real-world reenactments to cultivate an emotional or intimate experience to bring potential purchasers closer to the product.
If there was ever a way to truly quantify the quality and benefits of your product without real-world interaction, VR technology is possibly the best option right now.
“Virtual reality is quickly pairing with digital marketing to become the future of marketing as a whole. Nearly every brand can implement virtual reality in some way to market products and services to consumers.” – AJ Agarwal, DMWF
Ensuring an impact
Phase one of connecting to the AR/VR consumer base out there is finding a service or platform that can help bring your audience closer to the product(s) through an application that is content compatible. But, then what?
Today’s branded online content is often spread across thousands of retail touch points, and it can seem almost impossible to analyze how all AR/VR-compatible channels are faring without committing large amounts of time and energy.
Through data-based analytics that help get inside the behaviors and personalities of online consumers, brands now have the unprecedented ability to truly meet audiences where they are, and understand – through reviews, surveys, traffic reports, direct feedback and beyond – what changes may be needed. This information, in turn, will allow them to truly leverage AR and VR to the full potential.
Being AR/VR forward is one thing. Ensuring an impact requires an extra step.