Engagement: How AR and VR are transforming marketing

Image by Riki32 from Pixabay

Marketers talk a lot about ‘getting inside the head of their customers’ but in today’s fast-evolving digital world, edgy new tech like AR and VR are taking us into an era where we’re inviting customers to get inside our ads instead.

And this, says Morgan Cartlidge, Founder of Tin and Copper, a socials first digital marketing agency, is where transformative new technologies are set to revolutionise consumer engagement…

Morgan-Cartlidge-tin-and-copper
Morgan Cartlidge, Tin and Copper.

 

Since the advent of virtual reality, consumer interest has snowballed with PwC reporting that in 2023, a huge 58% of consumers show keen interest in brand experiences through VR.

It’s evident then that VR and its cousin augmented reality are reshaping the way we think about marketing, but what do these terms really mean and how are top brands leveraging new technology for captivating digital marketing?

What’s the Difference Between AR and VR?

First, let’s brush up on the difference between AR and VR. Essentially, AR enriches our real-world environment by superimposing digital information onto it while VR transports you into an entirely virtual world, a digital escape from reality.

Imagine seeing a sofa in your living room before buying it online – that’s AR in action! Being transported to a fictional, computer generated living room filled with anything you can think of – that’s VR.

How Brands Are Using VR and Why:

The VR market is on a meteoric rise, expected to hit £60.2 billion by 2027. Its immersive nature results in unprecedented engagement with users spending an average of 60 minutes in VR sessions, dwarfing the mere 8 seconds spent on banner ads.

With this kind of engagement up for grabs, global brands like Nike, Volvo, and Disney are already harnessing VR’s potential. Let’s take a closer look.

Nike’s “Nikeland” 

Launched as a digital playground and storefront where users can engage with the brand in an immersive, interactive environment, Nikeland lets customers participate in athletic and creative activities in VR.

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Nikeland

Since its launch, its impact has been nothing short of extraordinary. By March 2022, it had attracted nearly seven million visitors from 224 countries, including NBA superstar LeBron James, underscoring Nikeland’s ability to connect fans with their sports heroes in a unique way.

Volvo VR test drive

Volvo has been a pioneering brand when it comes to adopting VR technology and enhancing customer experience.

Its VR test drive lets prospective buyers feel what it’s like to drive an XC90 without leaving the comfort of their own home, providing users a fun and exciting new way to experience vehicles that’s safe and convenient.

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Volvo

As a bonus, the VR experience is built on Google Cardboard, a VR innovation from Google that’s paving the way for wider accessibility in VR by turning any smartphone into a VR headset.

How and Why Brands Are Using AR:

AR’s market potential is even more staggering, projected to reach a whopping £155.8 billion by 2025.

It’s revolutionising online shopping, with 62% of consumers more inclined to purchase after an AR trial.

On average, users engage with AR for 7 minutes per session, not as long as VR but still holding users attention for far longer, and in a far more meaningful way, than traditional digital marketing. So, who’s been using AR recently?

L’Oreal

L’Oréal’s innovative use of Augmented Reality (AR) for makeup try-ons is a beauty industry game-changer.

By integrating AR technology, L’Oréal allows customers to virtually try on cosmetics using their smartphones in real time.

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L’oreal

This trailblazing method not only offers a highly personalised shopping experience but also caters to the modern consumer’s desire for convenience and customisation whilst eliminating the guesswork from online makeup shopping.

IKEA Place

IKEA’s innovative app allows customers to visualise how IKEA’s furniture would look and fit in their own spaces. By simply using their smartphones, users can select from IKEA’s catalogue and virtually place furniture in their room.

The app displays a realistic, 3D image of the furniture, scaled to size, giving a true sense of how the piece will occupy their space.

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IKEA Place

Concerns and Challenges:

Despite the promising horizon, AR and VR technologies face certain hurdles:

Accessibility Concerns: As emerging technologies cost and device compatibility pose barriers to widespread adoption, an issue Google cardboard is seeking to address.

Data Privacy: With increased interaction between brands and consumers, data protection must take centre stage. Brands must build consumer trust through responsible data management and transparent privacy practices.

In conclusion, AR and VR are ushering in a new era of interactive and immersive marketing, offering brands a unique opportunity to forge deeper connections with their customers.

As these technologies mature and accessibility barriers fall, we can expect even more revolutionary marketing campaigns that blur the lines between reality and digital, leaving customers with unforgettable brand experiences.

However, navigating concerns around affordability, device compatibility, and data privacy will be crucial for long-term success.

Ultimately, brands that embrace AR and VR responsibly and creatively will stand to gain the most from this transformative marketing revolution.