Poonam Singh
Poonam Singh 25 May 2017

The Rise Of Augmented Reality And Immersive Brand Experiences

Experiences define a brand. How do you differentiate yours? Learn what augmented reality could mean for your customer experience and how digitally-mature brands leveraged it even before the Pokemon frenzy.

In the digital age, change arrives at Internet speed. Within just 24 hours of its release, the Augmented Reality-enabled gaming app Pokémon Go changed how millions of smartphone users interact with the world around them, and Augmented Reality (AR) transformed from a seemingly sci-fi concept to an overnight super hit among customers.

How can the mainstreaming of AR change business operations?

Well, imagine triggering a visit to your cafe or store by combining location-based games/services and Augmented Reality. Or driving passers-by to store by transforming your store window into an AR-enabled advertising tool or a shoppable window.

How about transforming your kiosk into a virtual fitting room and letting users try out multiple outfits without breaking a sweat? Or wowing shoppers by letting them visualize products better—such as how a new couch or chandelier might look in their living room? Or bringing catalogs to life and letting customers instantly discover which lip color or eye shadow suits them better?

How about designing an ultimate printed advertisement with trigger images that activate a compelling video version of the promotional material and offer instant purchase? Or helping online customers experience the just-launched, store-exclusive products line and drive footfalls? Or building confidence in purchase decisions by allowing customers to view how the product looks inside its packaging even without opening it?

The applications are endless! And imaginative brands ARE rapidly innovating to wow their customers with immersive, sticky experience for digital success.

But what is Augmented Reality?

AR is not a new technology, but a disruptive one because it offers possibilities that are difficult for other technologies to meet. It enables cool new forms of interaction between brands and users by overlaying rich digital information with the user’s view of the real world.

AR leverages mobility, location, 3D content, and image recognition to provide proximity-based or gesture-based interaction. Result: customer convenience, contextual and immersive experiences, more interactive promotions, novel ways of products exploration, higher engagement, more confidence in purchase decisions and higher satisfaction.

Brands, Wake Up!

Be it the popularity of Snapchat’s AR feature or Pokémania, there’s little doubt that people are enjoying the AR experience. “Through 2021, businesses will see a rapid evolution of immersive content and applications” says Gartner.

Tim Cook, Sundar Pichai, Satya Nadella, and Mark Zuckerberg, all love how consumers are willingly embracing the AR experience. The recent Microsoft announcement to open its mixed reality platform, Windows Holographic, to partners heralds a new era of mixed reality. At the recent F8 developers conference at San Jose, Mark Zuckerberg debuted a new platform—the Camera Effects Platform—that coders can use to build augmented reality apps on top of Facebook’s core service.

It is clear that Facebook's pinning its prospects on augmented reality - and why not, many big brands have leveraged the technology before Pokémon Go happened.

AR Innovation Before Pokémon's Debut

Delighted to share with you how some of the most digitally-mature Fortune 500 brands stay ahead of their game by adopting technology well before others. 

Neiman Marcus: A luxury fashion retailer known for its legendary merchandising and customer service developed a full-length, high-end digital mirror leveraging AR. The digital mirror offers an immersive, engaging, and next-gen shopping experience for the retailer’s high-profile customers by allowing them to try on different outfits effortlessly. Using simple body gestures with the mobile app, users can even see 360-degree views of various outfits.

L'Oreal: The world’s biggest beauty company built an AR-enabled live-makeup simulator app that lets consumers virtually try out makeup and beauty styles with scrupulous accuracy to help them make a purchase. They can also scan product barcodes in-store to test those items with the app. The app allowed the cosmetics giant to directly engage with its customers on a mobile device, effortlessly and beautifully by offering a ‘try-before-you-buy’ option and  created opportunities for continued, personalized engagement by gathering browsing and history data, which the company uses to create highly relevant offers, communications, and services.

With consumers demanding new experiences and continuously raising the bar on expectations, I can’t wait to see how businesses use AR to reimagine digital experiences to help customers buy better, shop more, and love their brands. 

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Please leave a comment below.

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