Augmented Reality and Retail

Last year we told you Augmented Reality (AR) was “the wave of the present.” In reality, that present is now.

The level of direct interactivity with customers is greater with AR than any other type of digital marketing. With constant advancements in mobile and digital technologies, businesses are taking advantage of AR and adapting it for consumer and commercial uses.  With a little creativity, several companies are utilizing this engagement as a new way to connect with their customers.

Just a week ago, Scheels unveiled a new AR fishing display at the grand opening of their new All Sports Superstore in Sandy, Utah. The interactive exhibit allows shoppers to hold up one of several digital fish, and then take and upload pictures of themselves holding their “trophy catch.”

The display is an exciting in-store destination, helping increase foot traffic and “linger time” in the store, therefore leaving a positive impact on customers. Add in the easy sharability of the photos and you have a perfect recipe for increasing brand awareness and creating buzz online.

Scheels isn’t the only company experimenting with AR as an emerging marketing tool. Coffee giant Starbucks brought their cups to life last Valentine’s Day through their Magic Cup app, which allowed coffee lovers to see light-hearted animations and spread love notes through their beverages.

The trend is even impacting the sporting world. To celebrate their Super Bowl XLVI victory last year, the New York Giants released an AR app that let fans virtually wear all four of the team’s Super Bowl rings and pose with the Vince Lombardi Trophy. Fans were encouraged to snap pictures of themselves with the digital memorabilia and upload them to the team’s Facebook and Twitter pages for a chance to win various prizes.

While they may not be strictly revenue-generating, the ROI of these campaigns is still huge. Giving customers a positive experience, while at the same time marketing to them, is a win-win situation.

Social media has already changed the game in customer engagement and interaction. Users now expect to actively participate in the brands they follow – they expect the brands to participate back. AR takes this interaction one step further by bringing the brand to life right in front of the users’ own eyes.

While it’s clear that the surface is just being scratched with AR marketing, one thing is becoming vibrantly clear – you can’t afford to ignore it any longer.

Agree? Disagree? What other companies or brands have used AR to their advantage over the past year, and why? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Share in the comments below.

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