It may seem like forever ago that businesses were capitalizing on Pokémon Go to market their business. Even though Pokémon Go has fallen off the radar, augmented reality isn’t going anywhere. Many companies have been taking advantage of this technology and using it to better serve their customer’s needs.
According to Tech Times, augmented reality is the blending of virtual reality and real life. Images are created by developers within applications and blend in with the contents of real life. This allows users to interact with the contents of both the virtual and real world.
Don’t get it confused with virtual reality. Virtual Reality allows users to interact with a virtual world and its aim is for users to find it difficult to distinguish the virtual world from the real world. Whereas it is very distinguishable to a user as to what is real or not in augmented reality. To summarize: Augmented reality places virtual images overlaying the real world while virtual reality isolates the user from the real world and immerses them in a fabricated world.
Both virtual reality and augmented reality aim to enhance the user’s experience and serves to immerse them further into the technology.
To really understand the difference between augmented reality and virtual reality let’s look at an example of each:
HoloLens by Microsoft is augmented reality. HoloLens is a headset with a built-in holographic computer. It lets you see, hear, and interact with holograms within an environment in the real-world. You can use HoloLens while walking around because the holograms overlay the actual space you are in. A user sees objects in the real world while also seeing virtual objects from the headset. A HoloLens user is not immersed in an entirely new world but rather interacting with both the real world and virtual world.
Oculus Rift is virtual reality. Oculus Rift is a headset that creates a three-dimensional world. Everything you see and experience with the Oculus Rift headset is virtual. While the headset is on, you cannot see any actual objects from the environment you are in. Unlike HoloLens, you wouldn’t be able to walk around with this headset because you wouldn’t be able to see anything other than the virtual reality you are immersed in.
Now that we have defined augmented reality and differentiated it from virtual reality, let’s see how it can be used to market products and companies.
You no longer have to come home with three different area rugs to see which one looks best with your décor. Several companies are using augmented reality for their catalogues. The leading furniture retailer, IKEA is is offering this technology to their customers.
Customers download an app onto their phone to use this catalogue. While browsing products, there is an option to access the AR which brings up a virtual version of the product in the view of the camera. Users can reposition and rotate the product. This technology allows IKEA to better engage their customers. Customers can visualize how a piece of furniture will look in their space before committing to purchase it. It helps them understand if the dimensions of the furniture will fit in their room and if it fits with the overall style of their home. This technology lessens the risk of an unsatisfied purchase. Therefore, customers are more likely to purchase items from the catalogue.
Dulux paint is doing a similar thing as IKEA with their Visualizer mobile app. The app allows you to place a colour of your choice on the walls in your house via a photo or video. There is an option to save these photos and videos and share them with friends. AR is streamlining the process when it comes to choosing a paint colour. By launching this app, Dulux is remaining competitive in the market by offering a more convenient alternative to picking a paint colour. The Visualizer app is a lot more effective than traditional paint swatches and paint chips.
L’Oreal Paris launched an app called Makeup Genius that uses AR. The app uses face mapping technology that allows users to test out different makeup products. As customers are browsing through different colours of lipstick, they can use the face mapping technology to see how each colour will look on them.
While there have been versions of this technology in the past, this app lets you make facial expressions in real-time rather than just seeing a static picture. This is very beneficial for online shoppers since they don’t have the benefit of trying out physical samples. We may even see this happening more for brick-and-motor retail formats due to the sanitary concerns of makeup testers.
Have you ever been in a rush while shopping and didn’t have time to try something on? You probably held it up in front of you to see how it looks before checking out. This is the reasoning behind Topshop launching their augmented reality kiosk change rooms. Topshop launched dressing rooms that use augmented reality technology so that customers can “try on” clothes. By standing in front of the kiosk, customers can see how the clothes look on them from both the front and the back. It appeals to consumers that don’t have the time to try everything on in a traditional change room.
Imagine being able to eliminate all your overhead expenses such as rent, electricity, gas, and employees while still giving your customers an in-store shopping experience. Yihoadian is China’s largest grocery store retailer and they are using augmented reality to create invisible stores.
The company is taking advantage of empty city spaces, such as parking lots, to launch their AR store formats. When customers launch the app on their phone, they are guided through virtual aisles of a grocery store and can add products to their cart. When they are done shopping, they can request to have the products sent to their home.
If you really want to stand out to potential clients, consider upgrading your business cards with AR technology. Features of AR business cards include linking them to catalogues or products. You can also connect your portfolio, files, sales pitch, and your business location. It is a great way to market your business and stand out from the other business cards a potential client is going to receive.
This has been the most common use of marketing with augmented reality. In September of 2015, Snapchat launched their lenses which use face mapping technology to change and alter a user’s appearance. The lenses proved to be a very popular feature for Snapchat and since then, companies have been using it to promote their business. A sponsored lens costs anywhere from $100,000 to 750,000 for 24 hours. It has proven to be a popular form of advertising for companies like Taco Bell, Gatorade, Hollister, Mac Cosmetics, and even several movie premieres.
It may seem like augmented reality is out of reach if you are a small business. If you don’t have the resources to develop your own AR technology, it doesn’t mean you can’t use it to market your business. You can piggyback off other forms of AR. In June 2016, we saw a lot of small businesses capitalize on the popular mobile gaming app Pokémon Go.
Local businesses placed “lures” outside their business. Lures attract Pokémon to a specific location for 30 minutes. Businesses’ advertised on their social media pages that they would place lures at specific times. This helped to drive customers to their storefront. We also saw a lot of businesses offering discounts or special offers if customers showed the app on their phone to cashiers.
Augmented Reality is going to become more popular as the technology improves. Use these examples as inspiration to get creative and think of ways you can be using augmented reality to better engage your customers.
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