When I retrospect about interesting Sci-Fi movies of last two decades, a scene from Minority Report (2002) always pops up where Tom Cruise-protagonist visits a shady place which is a sort of black market and apparently all the shops are providing services which are based on either augmented or virtual reality. Although it could be a figment of imagination for some ambitious graphic designers back then but it can’t be less than any reasonable real time touch-points for new age marketers. Augmented reality is one of the latest technological means for companies and brands to deliver their persuasive techniques to tech-savvy audience. And, as we speak today we are not looking at alien or complex format of technology for the target audience with a decent smartphone in hand.
We all are initiated when it comes to AR either through filters like Facebook, Snapchat and other social media platforms or games like Pokemon Go which had been a recent hype especially when one observes the eventual stock-price hike for Nintendo. Last Five years commercial application of such technologies have helped in building the trend of developing utilities which are providing screen-enhanced information. Augmented reality is sort of overlay of such personalized, accessible and appealing set of information on to the real world which allows users to see virtual elements or information while looking at real time entities.
In current scenario in India, most basic commercial application of AR so far has been for events and activation programs. Brands like Coca Cola, Tata Tiago, Renault KWID in India are using AR based personalized experiences in on-ground mall spaces and public event spaces for mass. Mahindra back in
2012 used AR in auto Expo, while launching XUV 500, to let people over there experience a virtual cheetah which was a visual treat and gained an impressive traction.
So, Gaming and entertainment is all what AR can do to get some eyeballs to brands? But, that seems the current or feasible utility-end of it. Some sorts of opportunist take at cashing in “shiny object syndrome” to uninitiated? At the same time what appears to me as a challenge and opportunity as well that how it can be utilized as a tool for experiential marketing effectively. Brands can look at AR as an extra-hand in perceiving a better brand recall value, positive word-of-mouth, and cultivating a repeat buying behavior by attractive and easy purchase journey. If we look at examples, real estate (CommonFloor) and consumer care have started vouching their new touch-points to consumers.
We have Lenskart providing an AR service to try out different samples of frames for consumers on App. While it adds a touch of novelty and also helps brand with a unique brag-worthy proposition thereby churning a decent word-of-mouth, brands can start exploring new options where AR can be a bridge between digital market place and a traditional brick and mortar shop. A mother with six-year old enters in a toy shop of let say Hasbrow and hands over the phone with the app of the brand to the child. Let’s say whenever kid rows the app over toys available in the shop, they (products let’s say a teddy or Captain America) start talking in personified manner through app or demo of the toy gets projected on phone screen. Such example of engagement will make retain customers and also provide tangible shareable property amongst prospective target group thereby giving another means to socialization.
Apart from such in-store better consumer experience (Walmart tried it long time back), another prospective marketing landscape with AR would be in ideating and introducing interactive advertisements. And, Indian tech- startups are joining the AR bandwagon with creative solutions to offer. Startups like Shopsense are helping apparel stores where customers can zero down their choice by virtually trying out on screen consisting in-store inventory.
The AR market internationally is projected to reach $117.4 billion (at compounded growth rate of 76%) by 2022 according to MarketsandMarkets report titled “Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Market — Global Forecast to 2022”. “The increasing demand for AR and VR technology-based products in various verticals such as consumer, aerospace, defence, commercial and medical is responsible for the market growth,” said the MarketsandMarkets’ report. The Indian AR & VR market is projected to grow at a CAGR of over 55% during 2016–2021. Increasing AR usage for enhancing gaming experience, growing penetration of head-up displays in the automotive sector, rising use of AR in pico projectors, etc., are driving the AR & VR market in the country.
AR opens up unexplored field for marketeers as it provides new space for three-dimensional thinking and idea execution. It is turning out to be an immersive platform of storytelling for brands with more objects to interact for consumers and edge-cutting real time experiences. Brands like Lego and IKEA are allowing customers to scan the catalogue and decide where the products would fit in their living spaces or not. Surprisingly sitcoms like Black Mirror are doing a bit much than real time product developers and marketing professionals (mainly because of artistic liberty and practicality of such products and services in reel life) but there’re potential touch-points for companies to communicate their brand-attitudes and opportunities for agencies of showcasing their reinventing capabilities for brands.