From Fad to Brand Differentiator

Augmented Reality (AR) technology is no longer a far-fetched possibility in retail. Once a nice-to-have technology, AR has quickly become a necessity for retailers.

In fact, the year 2020 was the beginning of mass consumer uptake of AR technology in retail with the COVID-19 outbreak forcing people to be housebound and looking for safe, hygienic, and personalized shopping experiences from the comfort of their homes.

With lockdowns being lifted across most countries, many brands are now executing retail campaigns using these AR technologies, such as LiDAR and Simultaneous Localization and Mapping (SLAM), both in and out-of-store to delight customers.

These technologies help brands anchor digital objects in the physical world and replicate the physical shopping experience to increase conversions and reduce returns.

Integrating AR in the retail space isn’t a novel concept. Large corporations like Sephora, Nike and Ikea have been dabbling in AR capabilities in both their in-store and app experiences such as 3D body scanning, virtual try-on mirrors, virtual makeup filters for the past few years.

(Source: Harvard Business School)

In fact, it was Gartner that predicted back in 2019, that over 100 million consumers will use AR by 2020 in their shopping experiences. And they were right, (albeit for different reasons). 

The factor that had been lacking before the pandemic was simply the urgent drive for retail to adopt this technology. That lack of momentum has since been transformed into a necessity quickly because of the pandemic.

However, it’s clear that even on the other side of the pandemic, the shopping habits formed now will stick around.

Over 51% of consumers surveyed by Nielsen listed AR as one of the top technologies they were willing to use while shopping. In fact, the combined AR and Virtual Reality market in the retail industry is predicted to reach almost $2095 billion by 2027, a growth rate of 69%.

Benefits of AR in Advertising

In the past, retailers would mainly rely on print, radio, billboards and other forms of advertising campaigns to promote their products.

Thanks to AR, these advertising campaigns can now be integrated today, delivering a truly consistent and enjoyable consumer experience.

AR-led marketing and advertising can help brands build better consumer relationships, boost sales and ROI, add value to the shoppers’ experiences, increase conversions and offer a unique experience that drives word of mouth, and much more.

Here are three added benefits of utilizing AR in your retail marketing and advertising strategy:

1. Brand Buzz

AR can be used as an indirect marketing strategy to amplify your brand recall value. It can get people talking and fetch virality on social media, generating maximum exposure and creating a buzz around your brand.

In an ultra-competitive space like retail, a successful AR campaign can be the key differentiator that helps you outsmart your competitors.

Click here to see how Toys”R” Us launched an innovative AR application and campaign to remain afloat despite the corporation’s impending bankruptcy.

(Source: Magestore)

2. Interactive Advertising

AR can be utilized by brands to deliver a uniquely interactive ad experience that boosts conversions.

The real-time interaction between the ad and the consumer can be accurately measured to gauge the impact of the campaigns. Brands can then optimize them accordingly. AR-based ads are also less intrusive for customers since they are interactive and spark their interest.

Check out this award-winning AR-enabled campaign launched by luxury brand Michael Kors on Facebook, which cemented them as a leader in interactive advertising.

The screenshots above depict the customer journey. From L to R – 1) They come across the sunglass ad on their social media, 2) They’re seamlessly moved to an AR “try-on” experience, and finally, 3) They complete their purchase on the e-commerce site. (Source: Upcoming Media)

3. Personalization

AR-driven product personalization is the latest business differentiator as it offers an immersive shopping experience for customers and significantly increases their buying rate from the store.

AR technologies enable customers to virtually try on products using “avatars” and save that information for later to make informed purchase decisions.

Saved consumer data and purchase history can also be leveraged to push personalized offers to customers, which leads to higher conversion rates.

Click here to watch a video of how clothing giant Topshop delighted their customers with AR-powered kiosks that showed their digital reflections “trying on” different outfits!

(Source: TrooTech)

Time to Associate Your Retail Brand with Positive Emotion

If the thought of using AR in your print advertising campaign overwhelms you, we can help you tie the two. By enabling this, you’ll reap the benefits of an omnichannel advertising strategy and improve your lead generation efforts and brand reputation.

To further enrich your omnichannel strategy, radio can also be leveraged as a valuable offline touch point in your customer’s journey. For example, a robust radio campaign that highlights your retail brand’s upcoming AR capabilities is sure to grab attention from local audiences who listen to it.

How Will it Work?

When AR is used in your print advertisement, the reader can scan the image with the camera of his/her smartphone that has the AR software, which quickly loads related digital content like videos, photo galleries, store catalogues and lots more. It then displays in the device’s camera view.

For radio, you’ll need to be more creative about building up the buzz. We recommend intriguing teaser ads that’ll lead potential customers to your website, where they can experience the AR features in full.

Trusted by 56 million readers and tuned into by 32 million, our print and radio channels respectively work together to help you maximize your brand’s reach and drive traffic to your retail store. You can then deliver memorable in-store and out-of-store AR experiences to them and drive sales like never before. Let’s talk!

Ready to take your brand to the next level? Connect with us today to explore how HT Media can amplify your presence across our diverse portfolio of 25+ brands and properties. Let's turn your brand vision into reality!

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