Is now one of the best times to use augmented reality marketing?

By Max Dawes, Managing Director at Zappar 

As we fight against the global pandemic, retailers are adapting to new and different circumstances. The closure of stores protects the health and safety of employees, keeping them shielded until the health crisis is resolved and normality resumes. Retailers have been taking dramatic steps to protect their employees. During this challenging time, it’s heartening to see the astonishing actions taken to help others.

Second to health is business. Retailers are adapting to new market conditions which will inhibit their revenue. New technologies that would’ve taken years to implement are entering being pushed live in a matter of weeks. One major question for retailers is – how do you target an audience that will not step into your stores for the next few months? How do you reach people stuck at home, to inspire or incentivise them? One answer is augmented reality.

Why? Augmented reality is scientifically proven to be more attention-grabbing and memorable than traditional media. Zappar worked with Mindshare on a study to explore the impact of augmented reality on the human brain, and the results were astonishing. The study found that AR contributes significantly to product evaluation, with a third of consumers confirming it helped them narrow their purchase decisions. The technology also drives 45 percent higher levels of visual attention in the brain than other forms of media, like online browsing. These findings prove out that  AR is a great tool for retailers and their consumers.

Augmented reality in retail has been around for years. Now, the global situation calls for more at-home experiences. People can no longer see friends at local shopping centres, or browse the high street. Friends and family are isolated at home, only communicating via online messaging applications and phone calls. How do retailers reach them? A few solutions exist – targeted advertising, newsletters – but, by themselves, they lack the punch that immersion and AR can bring. AR offers a more robust and compelling experience that is more likely to convert sales and brings the shopping experience home.

The benefits are compounded with the introduction of WebAR. Instead of downloading apps to view the experience, companies can deliver AR experiences via a simple URL, which can then be run in their normal mobile browser (just like accessing a website). The benefit is that the links can be shared easily, with fewer barriers to accessing the experience. The links can also be shared in newsletters too, giving companies a new avenue to reach their customers and provide tools to assist their shopping.

Take browsing for a coffee machine. Usually, a shopper would enter a store, peruse the options, and select a device that suits their tastes. Not so during a pandemic. But with AR, people can place a coffee machine in their kitchen and see if it fits the context of their home. No longer do they need to browse it in the shop; they can see if the colours match the decor of the room, and decide on their purchase from there. The shopping experience can be replicated in the kitchen.

We live in challenging times. The rules of marketing are being stretched and changed, as companies shift their strategy to fit the new normal. A campaign should be designed to maximise impact and engagement; and when people are at home, what can work better than augmented reality?

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