Building Hybrid Worlds With AR Unlocks New Potential for Brands

For brands looking to use AR in their marketing strategy, it is important to first understand it holistically, says Paviter Singh.
Image: Tima Miroshnichenko

Augmented Reality (AR) marries the undeniable, solid touch of real life with the imaginative potential of a virtual world, giving us the best of both worlds. A hybrid that allows us to move confidently in environments we are familiar with, coated with a novel layer of digital interactions that would otherwise be impossible in just the real world.

Imagine being able to virtually try on sneakers on a whim, at home, simply by pointing your phone towards your feet.

Virtual Reality (VR), on the other hand, is not only incredibly platform-specific but requires one to own expensive equipment that’s typically bulky and not easily portable. While VR has its merits—total immersion, more room for imagination, and typically better for entertainment purposes—the technology is currently limited to a few successful use cases.

 
 

AR, on the other hand, can be utilized with the smartphone already in your pocket, and the already rich world that surrounds us. This hybrid is the key.

People everywhere are looking forward to this hybrid world—According to a survey, 85% of U.S. consumers are excited about augmented reality as a way to interact with products while 85% are at least somewhat likely to choose a brand that provides an option for consumers to be more confident about fit, look and experience through the technology.

Indeed, according to projections by Facts and Factors, the AR market size is predicted to grow to over USD$90.8 billion by 2028.

 
 

AR in a remote world

Now that the world has been through a global pandemic, the benefits of remote communication can scarcely be disputed. With AR, consumers can continue shopping even if every mall and shop within the vicinity is closed. Field technicians can continue to be supported and supervised wherever they are. Equipment and process training can be conducted conducively and remotely. Need to demonstrate a product to a client or customer? Without AR, one would have to settle for clunky, two-dimensional presentations.

AR has existed for more than 50 years, but it was truly made for a pandemic-stricken world that has awakened to the necessity of digital communication tools. Organizations in most sectors can utilize the potential of AR—according to Goldman Sachs, the predicted market size of VR/AR applications in 2025 for the enterprise and public sector will be US$ 16.1b.

A foundation for the metaverse

The metaverse may be around the corner, and a firm understanding and good use of AR can provide a solid foundation for this burgeoning venture. If the metaverse becomes a reality, businesses that already have plans to provide a metaverse customer experience will have the upper hand. With 82% of companies who try AR and VR reporting that the benefits met or exceeded expectations, businesses are clearly becoming more open to the metaverse.

“If the metaverse becomes a reality, businesses that already have plans to provide a metaverse customer experience will have the upper hand.”

Building this foundation is not just beneficial for organizations, but for their enterprise clients and consumer base as well. There is no chance that the transition to the metaverse will be a seamless one. Introducing AR into your business, and therefore to your clients and customers, is essentially a gradual induction into the metaverse.

When the time comes to begin migrating your business into the metaverse, the shift will be an easier one for both parties.

Spicing up the consumer experience

Consumers want choice in how they interact with a brand, especially in a post-pandemic world. In a study by Tallwave, the majority of respondents who used digital experience provided by businesses during COVID-19 reported a more favorable impression of the business, proving that flexibility to choose their own “adventure” is essential for the post-COVID customer.

In 2020, at the peak of the pandemic in India, smartphone OnePlus partnered with Snapchat for Diwali. Although people were kept home by Covid-19 restrictions, Snapchatters in India could send out Diwali greetings from their own balconies, ‘releasing’ it to the sky via their smartphones.

Similarly, Snapchat and Gucci launched their first-ever global AR shoe ‘try-on’ campaign, using SnapML technology to let Snapchatters virtually try on Gucci shoes. After trying the shoes, Snapchatters could purchase the item directly from the platform via a ‘Shop Now’ button, generating Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for Gucci.

As with any tool, one must learn how to yield it

But AR isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, new technologies never are. Different organizations, industries, and business leaders will utilize it in different ways. If one is keen to use AR in their business strategy, it is important to understand AR wholly and holistically: its limitations and potential, how the technology works, how to develop full-funnel always on AR strategies and its core elements—and how all of this might fit into an Asia Pacific landscape.

At Hyper Island, we have partnered with Snap to produce an AR Accelerator Programme, the first of its kind in Asia Pacific. This course is for digital creatives, marketers and brand managers, aimed to accelerate your understanding of AR and its integration in marketing strategies.

The hybrid world of AR is here, let’s learn how to build it.

Paviter Singh

Paviter Singh

Paviter is Head of Courses at Hyper Island, Asia Pacific

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