Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the most thrilling technological advancements in human history. It integrates digital information with the physical environment, in real-time.
With the addition of graphics, sounds, haptic feedback and even smell in some cases, AR provides users with real-life experience through the help of super-imposed image or animation.
According to Statista, the number of mobile AR users is set to increase to an astonishing 800 million by end of 2021. This figure is expected to rise to an amazing 1.73 billion users by 2024.
Impact of Augmented Reality in Branding
Consumer expectation is the main driving force behind the market today. With increasing advances in technology, these expectations are growing in pace too.
Augmented reality (AR) has become one of the most attractive means of promoting your products and services to customers. When used with a firm strategy, AR becomes a novel way to interact with target audiences.
This technology allows brands to advertise using enhanced visual recognition for added emotional attachment.
For instance, an augmented business card is the new trend. It is extremely distinguishable from conventional and even modern chic business cards.
Augmented cards act as pocket-sized information centers for your business, with details of the company such as email and social media accounts and a screen for a short video presentation.
Advantages of Augmented Reality for Advertisement
Smartphones have become ubiquitous today. Majority of consumers interact with brand and make buying decisions based on what they see. With augmented reality, you get an impressive advertisement tool that helps boost sales and enhances your brand value significantly.
Let’s check out the specific advantages and benefits that augmented reality (AR) provide for branding and advertising:
#1. Customers can try before they buy
Usually a customer wants to try anything before actually buying. Hence, manufacturers tend to provide samples of cosmetic products to try, fitting rooms in clothing shops to check whether the clothes fit as comfortably as you want car-dealers offer free test-drives to customers. Other similar concepts are also used in other industries to evaluate just how effective your existing sales strategy is.
The retail industry was one of the first industries to adopt augmented reality and has made the concept a trend in the market. With the help of AR technology, potential customers can try on makeup, clothes and a huge range of home products without interacting with the products in reality. Augmented reality also helps retailers avoid having to build an expensive inventory for customers to choose from.
Some of the leading brands that have adopted augmented reality for promotional and advertising purposes include Facebook, which pioneered AR applications. For instance, using Facebook’s AR-powered ads, users can try on cosmetics, accessories, clothes, etc. with the help of their device camera.
#2. Augmented assistance and touring capabilities
Augmented reality allows businesses to include a digital component to their physical locations and products. Customers can simply scan an object or product and get an AR experience which is customized to provide additional information about the product. This technique is also being increasingly used to provide potential customers with supplemental brand-centric experience.
When AR is used this way, it becomes useful in numerous industries and markets. For instance, StubHub, the online ticket sales company designed and launched an AR-centric app which allows users to view the Super Bowl stadium using 3D technology on their device. This allowed fans to check the views from different seats in the arena so that they could buy the best spot in the stadium.
Starbucks is another pioneer of AR-powered ads. The globally renowned coffee shop also launched an AR experience that allows customers to take a virtual tour of their coffee shops. Additionally, the technology has also found use in the automotive industry. While Hyundai was the first to provide an augmented reality manual for drivers, Mercedes launched the “Ask Mercedes” feature which is an AI-powered assistant that interacts with voice commands.
#3. Boost branding with augmented reality
Augmented reality can also turn conventional branding materials, such as brochures and business cards into high-tech branding material. Consumers can simply scan the printed materials with their smartphone and get access to an array of information and details.
For instance, a consumer can choose to scan a brochure at the correct spot and get access to a short video highlighting important aspects and details of the products or services. Besides, you can even create a business card that provides detailed contact information to the user.
#4. Create a buzz for your brand
Augmented reality also helps to boost indirect sales and marketing strategies. Earlier, AR technology was used in direct tactics for boosting sales. However, the technology can also be used to improve the brand name itself.
When you create a unique, engaging and informational augmented reality experience it can help build a buzz for your brand, provided the strategy is executed properly. AR technology is considerably new and a refreshing experience for first-time users. This means that a well-executed AR-powered branding strategy will give a major boost to your brand, as users will experience an impact and remember the experience for a long time.
Consumers are attracted to brands that keep them happy and satisfied. Hence, using AR technology to add impact to marketing strategies is an effective way to grant brand exposure to potential consumers that will incur long-term dividends in the form of customer’s brand loyalty.
One of the best real-life examples of using augmented reality for branding was done by Pepsi at a bus station. Under the marketing campaign, Pepsi allows users to access a virtual AR window alongside the bus station’s wall.
Users could experience varied sights, including a rushing tiger, robots running in the AR landscape and UFOs filling the sky. This marketing strategy helped take off the mundaneness of waiting for a bus and made Pepsi the talk of the town for many months. This was a clearly impactful marketing strategy that proved extremely successful.
#5. AR technology to boost B2B relations
Augmented reality can also transform the B2B experience of vendors and customers in various ways. A B2B sales process is usually filled with fluctuating customer expectations and several limitations on the vendor’s end. However, with AR technology, the entire dynamic of the sales process can be improved drastically.
A major change in B2B sales that can be brought about by adopting augmented reality is creating dynamic sales presentation material. The conventional way for B2B promotion is top hand over a bunch of brochures and flyers, and maybe a PowerPoint Presentation, to the sales team.
In contrast, you can provide your salesforce with digital devices that allow them to access customized augmented reality apps and present a virtual, 3D view of each product or service. There’s no doubt that the second team is more likely to engage potential customers and convert them into buyers.
Real-Life examples of Augmented Reality used for Branding
Now that you know the distinct advantages that AR can provide to your business, let’s take a quick look at how some of the global giants are utilizing this amazing technology for branding and promotion worldwide.
#1 – ASOS – Virtual Catwalk
Asos is known for mobile innovation as it previously integrated virtual search into its popular mobile app. By 2019, Asos had heavily integrated AR and launched an experimental Virtual Catwalk. This digital ramp allows users to visualize over 100 products on their digital device.
#2 – Toyota – Car Demo
Toyota integrated AR into its promotional campaign back in 2019 when it launched the Hybrid AR app. This allowed customers to get detailed information of its new C-HR model. Toyota collaborated with Brandwidth to create the app which overlays images of the inner components, such as the advanced Hybrid drive-train on to physical vehicles.
Augmented Reality is here to stay. Companies that are highly focused on improving sales and marketing strategies have already adapted AR technology with significant success.
Marketing experts today recommend small and big companies to launch their own virtual business cards and other virtual-reality based branding materials.