With the rise of AR integration in many mobile apps, we are beginning to see a clear delineation between what drives meaningful and lasting loyalty versus momentary enjoyment. While creating a momentary boost to brand visibility & traffic these kinds of augmented experiences don’t do anything to the long-term health of the brand or serve the customer. Take the example of a Purdue University study that showed participants a printed version and an augmented reality version of the same ad:
— The print ad retained 82% of the factual information
— The AR ad only 59% percent
Using augmented reality impeded communication because the focus was on the technology rather than the message.
The challenge of using AR in mobile for brands is to figure out how it drives utility with that ‘wow’ factor.
Augmented Reality, Augmented Value
Some brands that are doing AR well are Warby Parker, Ikea & Sephora. They’ve figured out how to use it to elevate the brand experience by combining what consumers want from mobile to seamlessly create an enhanced shopping experience. Warby Parker does this by allowing customers to digitally try on glasses using AR to see glasses on their own face.
This strategic use triggers all of the sweet spots: Visual, Personal, and Emotional to deliver a rewarding interaction. Similarly, Ikea & Sherwin-Williams utilize their mobile app and AR to allow customers to see how products will look in their homes.
Featuring your customer or their home as the model, you remove any doubts about what the product will look like in real life. The personalization is perfect, and so too is the convenience. By allowing consumers to experience products in their homes, brands are actually driving them to their brick and mortars by creating a guarantee that their time won’t be wasted. Instead of multiple visits to the store to make returns if something doesn’t look or fit correctly, AR is a fail-safe.
Making it Personal
To be able to physically see something is always going to be more impactful than just trying to visualize it in your head. It’s a make-or-break moment for our “I need it” response. When applied to shopping, it not only makes the decision easier but makes the experience more personalized and fun. All of the previous brands mentioned have achieved this but Sephora is exceptional at it. And for good reason considering their product offering is luxury cosmetics which is not as necessary of a purchase as new glasses, all things considered. Their makeover tool, which allows people to try products on digitally is robust in that it conveys not just the look but also techniques. This is especially important for their consumers who want to know if a certain shade will look good with their skin tone or are unsure how to apply it.
With research showing that 79% of customers only consider brands that show they understand and care about “me,” and 56% being loyal to brands that deeply understand their priorities and preferences, personalization is a must.
How Do I Make it Click?
Designing AR experiences that actually drive sales can be a challenge. Often the most interesting or innovative AR experiences aren’t always ones that help reach KPIs. A carefully strategized experience should increase long term engagement and help usher consumers down the conversion funnel. Measuring things like:
— Items viewed
— Items added to cart
That are made in the same session as using an AR tool, makes sense. Many though fail to think about how it will affect a consumer’s interaction with the entire brand over the long term. Including KPIs for things such as:
— Purchases made in later sessions
— Adding items to wishlists
— Sharing items with others
— Cross-platform conversions
Will give a much fuller picture of how and how well the tool is being used. AR mobile experiences are most likely to have the desired effect when they involve three things—search, browse, and buy. If it’s easier for shoppers to do each of those things whenever they want to, then the retailer can expect to achieve maximum results from the AR experience. Often consumers crave visual inspiration or curation and “Great digital experiences make it feel seamless to go from browsing or searching to buying.” says Nancy Hua of Apptimize
Integrating AR into your mobile app should be a purposeful decision that combines “wow” with utility; creating a weighty brand loyalty tool that provides real value to your customer’s lives.