Even if you’ve never heard of “Augmented Reality,” you may have experienced it. Augmented Reality combines digital images with a smartphone’s camera view to deliver a layered experience. And in so doing, it presents a whole new frontier for brands to engage with their customers. AR experiences command attention, engage emotions, and commit themselves to memory. The usage of AR can run the gamut from strictly informative to purely entertaining, but the common denominator should always be value. Brands must resist the urge to leverage the technology just for the sake of technology. Customers tend to reject technology if it’s thrust at them without purpose or value. Like all marketing channels, the key is to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. Here’s a look at how some brands are using it successfully.
Better understand products pre-purchase
Brands can use AR to create an interactive dimension to those considering a purchase. IKEA and Home Depot are using the technology to give you a glimpse of particular products in your home (or anywhere you currently are) through the screen of your smartphone. Luxury car brand, Lincoln, crafted a 360 virtual experience to allow potential buyers to test a vehicle in various climates and road conditions. They found users who engaged with the experience were more likely to move forward with buying. And Puma is using it to connect with customers at their New York City flagship store. Customers can scan different items around the store to learn more and view branded content featuring Puma’s feline mascot.
Instructions after purchase
An underlying consumer benefit behind the rise of AR technology is that it can provide people with the information to help them navigate certain tasks while increasing levels of engagement, emotional intensity and attention. Post purchase, there is a strong opportunity to use connected packaging or the product itself as the surface to deliver additional utility to people. This could be ‘how to’ guides for product usage, assembly instructions or recipe information for food and drink products.
Car manufacturers such as Mercedes Benz were early adopters of AR manuals, allowing consumers to use their smartphone or tablet to get acquainted with every element on their new vehicle’s dashboard, with some manuals also including how-to information for basic repairs and maintenance, such as checking oil or refilling wiper fluid.
In the food and drink world, Heinz has used AR to provide an interactive recipe book for their products if you scan them with your smartphone. Similarly, Bombay Sapphire uses the technology to share an interactive guide on mixing drinks.
Deepen emotional engagement with consumers
On the pure entertainment side of the spectrum, Coke created a series of AR experiences where users are able to point their phone’s camera at a can of Coke and witness one of 12 stories come to life. The lighthearted stories revolve around some minor conflict, where animated characters engage in a simple exchange leading to an outcome that becomes more enjoyable by sharing a Coke.
BIC Kids uses AR to bring together gaming and storytelling in an engaging example of digital creativity. The BIC Kids DrawyBook app is a unique gaming experience for kids that allows them to bring their drawings on paper to life. The kids can then bring their drawings back into the app as part of an interactive story which places the child and their creativity at the center of this unique digital experience.
As Augmented Reality becomes more and more prevalent, consumer expectations of additional layers of content will grow. They will be on the lookout for richer, more meaningful experiences. And, in turn, brands have an opportunity to connect to their audience in a real and authentic way.