"Augmented" - this word holds such promise of things that are bigger, more amplified, and certainly better. It is what we all wish our everyday realities were. Good news is that it is coming true as we speak. Interestingly, augmented reality (AR) is all the buzz word in marketing too - where focus is to create personalized, engaging and multi-dimensional brand experience for customers.
Imagine walking into a fashion store where you can hold up your phone at the formal wear section and watch a fashion show of the clothes on display. Or, at your favourite coffee shop, you could aim your phone camera at the cup and dunk a ball in it to play virtual basketball. The possibilities are immense and marketers are making the most of it.
Pokemon Go, the new mobile gaming phenomenon for example, is taking marketing communication to unexplored arenas. For the uninitiated, Pokemon Go is a location based augmented reality game that requires its players to locate and capture 'Wild Pokemons' from real world surroundings called PokeStops. The use of GPS data coupled with AR driven content gives marketers the rare opportunity to create and serve offers that are both personalized and hyperlocal at the same time. Brands are able to share messages that are focussed and interactive as well as tailored to boost consumer's intent to purchase. Retailers may collaborate with the developers of the game to create custom PokeStops at/around their stores in order to drive traffic and increase footfall.
Consumer Insights Power AR for Push Marketing
Now imagine possibilities when we combine AR with BigData analytics and consumer insights. It not only will help boost revenues but also improve customer satisfaction by delivering the right product or service at the right place and at the right time when the customer desires it. For example, a beauty salon may have data on its customers' arrival patterns which indicate a peak on weekends when wait times are longer compared to weekdays.
The salon could employ a revenue-based pricing to tailor discounts in real-time which would significantly improve the overall seat occupancy and therefore revenue. However, if this were backed by a GPS-driven AR-based campaign where users could try on different hair colours or styles on their phones, chose the one they liked and then walk in to the nearest salon at their convenience. That would actively encourage customers to visit the store and thereby boost revenue.
Augmented reality is likely to drive a sea-change in conventional campaign management where web pages or e-coupon led promotions will metamorphose into a real-time messages based on customer data - which is to say - marketers could now directly target a consumer visiting the store with the message: "Welcome to our store! We know you need Product X - it's available here, right now, exactly at the price that you are looking for". Here, the customer is being engaged at the exact time when she is most likely to make the purchase - at the end of a very engaging gaming experience enhanced by AR.
Creating Measurable Marketing Successes
Marketers need to re-think their overall marketing communication strategy to embrace this change. Media plans will now focus more on digital AR-led campaigns. They also need creative people who quickly grasp these new technologies. With AR, one could create virtual billboards that are multi-dimensional and personalized to customer's preferences in real time. AR has the potential to create an interactive experience of a product for the customers, without actually touching or feeling one.
Imagine what this could do to an automobile showroom, where you might be able to experience driving a brand new car without taking a test drive, or at a retail store where you could virtually try a new home appliance such as a juicer at the comfort of your home. Digital natives are likely to adopt this are likely to embrace this innovation and adopt quickly to these virtual-reality driven devices.
An AR-led approach to marketing will change conventional performance metrics by shifting the focus from conversion KPIs such as open rates, click-through-rates or even call-to-action to actual purchases. Hyper local branding and messaging will now directly focus on real-time product purchases. This will marry financial performance metrics to marketing communication making it so much more valuable. In a world where technology is bringing the physical and virtual environments closer, AR opens up a wide range of exciting possibilities for marketers to create personalized, real-time customer experiences that empowers them to make informed buying decisions.