What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Put simply, augmented reality (AR) is a technology that enhances the real world by overlaying virtual elements onto it. Often referred to as “mixed reality”, AR can be experienced through a smartphone, tablet, or wearable device. AR technology enables marketers to create immersive brand experiences that can bring products and services to life.
For example, in 2019, IKEA launched an AR-based app, “IKEA Place”, that allows consumers to see how furniture items would look and fit in their homes before they make a purchase. This app means that consumers can visualize products in a way that simply wasn’t possible before AR technology.
And it’s not just retail that can benefit from AR advertising. In 2018, children’s hospital, “Little Tikes”, used AR technology to create an interactive donated toy box. The technology allowed patients to interact with virtual toys and unlocked a real donation for each interaction.
What is Virtual Reality (VR)?
Unlike augmented reality, virtual reality (VR) is a fully immersive experience. VR typically involves wearing a headset that covers the user’s eyes and ears, blocking out the real world and transporting them to a virtual one.
One of the key benefits of VR is its ability to provide customers with a unique brand experience. In 2014, Marriott showed the potential of VR technology for its hotels by offering customers a four-minute video tour of its hotels that enabled them to virtually experience both the ambience and the luxury of its properties. This campaign enabled Marriott to engage with potential customers in a new and innovative way.
But VR isn’t only good for experiences that can be considered “luxury”. In 2020, Coca-Cola launched a VR platform in Brazil that enabled customers to take part in the iconic Brazil Carnival from the comfort of their homes. This immersive experience allowed Coca-Cola to create a unique brand experience for its consumers, and demonstrate the brand’s aligned interests with Brazilian behavior and culture.
How AR and VR are Evolving in Marketing
The evolution of AR and VR technology in marketing is ongoing. As technology gets more sophisticated, the potential uses for AR and VR will only increase.
AR and VR Technology in E-Commerce
One of the most obvious places for AR and VR technology to take hold is in e-commerce. The ability for customers to try before they buy can reduce buyer’s remorse and return rates, which in turn can save businesses time and money. AR and VR technology can enable customers to see how products will look in the real world before they make a purchase. Early adopters are already taking advantage of these technologies, and it’s not difficult to imagine a future in which AR and VR are standard features of most e-commerce platforms.
AR and VR Technology in Real Estate
AR and VR technology can enable customers to take virtual tours of properties to determine their preferences before taking a physical tour. This is particularly useful for long-distance buyers and renters who might struggle to visit properties in person. In addition, virtual staging is becoming more commonplace, with businesses using AR and VR technology to show how a property could look without physically staging it.
AR and VR Technology in Education
The benefits of AR and VR technology for education are huge, with the ability to create immersive and interactive learning experiences. Students can explore virtual environments, experiment with processes and immerse themselves in scenarios that wouldn’t be possible in the real world. For example, in 2019, Google launched a VR platform that allowed students to explore the human body in 360 degrees to learn more about anatomy and physiology.
AR and VR Technology in Healthcare
AR and VR technology have many uses within the healthcare industry, from training to treatment. For example, VR technology has been found to be effective for treating phobias and anxiety. There have also been studies that show that AR technology can be effective in helping doctors and healthcare professionals to visualize and understand medical procedures.
AR and VR Technology in Tourism
AR and VR technology can enable tourists to take virtual tours, experience new destinations and interact with local culture before they visit. For example, in 2019, Lonely Planet launched an AR-powered location-sharing app, “Trips”, that allowed users to create and share custom itineraries with each other. This type of platform enables tourists to connect with other travelers, explore new destinations and get recommendations on places to visit.
AR and VR Technology in Events
AR and VR technology can be used to enhance live events, trade shows, and conferences. For example, in 2017, Jaguar Land Rover launched a VR experience to give customers a chance to drive the new Velar before it hit the showrooms. This type of event allows businesses to create immersive brand experiences, and perhaps more importantly, create buzz around new product launches.
AR and VR Technology in Advertising
Finally, we’re seeing AR and VR technology being used to create innovative advertising campaigns. For example, in 2020, Rimmel London launched a Snapchat filter that allowed users to try on its makeup products virtually, from the comfort of their own home. This type of campaign enables businesses to connect with customers in a new and innovative way and showcases their products in a unique and engaging way.
The Future of AR and VR in Marketing
AR and VR technology provide so many opportunities for marketers to create more immersive and interactive brand experiences. It’s predicted that revenue from AR and VR technologies will grow to $192 billion by 2022, and these technologies are already starting to have an impact on consumers’ buying behavior.
But it’s important for marketers to remember that AR and VR technology are still in their infancy in terms of mainstream adoption. In order to make the most of these technologies, businesses need to think creatively and identify opportunities to differentiate themselves from their competitors. For some businesses, this might mean creating unique VR experiences, for others, adopting AR technology within their e-commerce platforms might be the key to success.
AR and VR technology are transforming the way businesses interact with consumers. By creating immersive and interactive brand experiences, businesses can engage with customers in new and innovative ways. As the technology continues to evolve, businesses that are quick to adopt and experiment with AR and VR technology will be the ones to set themselves apart in a crowded market. The future of AR and VR in marketing is exciting, and we can’t wait to see what innovations the future will bring.
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