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Today we want to present a concept that promises to expand the physical shopping experience to the virtual environment: Augmented Reality.

In recent years, technology has transformed the relationship between customers, brands, and consumer experiences. The new technological trends that are emerging, combined with the new possibilities for interaction will revolutionize entire sectors.

By diving into this innovation in the market, we will better understand how it works, what its applications are, its importance for contact with the public in the future, and its practical benefits. Happy reading! 

What is Augmented Reality?

Augmented Reality or extended reality is the concept of inclusion and interaction of virtual elements in a physical environment via an electronic device.

Currently, the most common model of AR (Augmented Reality) used by people and companies is the use of cell phones equipped with cameras for the insertion of elements that expand the view of some product, information, or interactive component.

The popularization of this model has been driven by the availability of devices with increasingly sophisticated lenses and software. It is a technology that benefits from the fact that we always have smartphones in our hands and pockets.

Thus, companies around the world are looking for ways to use the potential of adding engaging digital elements to expand the buying experience by using and interacting with brands, products, and services.  

How does Augmented Reality work?

Augmented Reality generally uses Artificial Intelligence software that ‘reads’ the images captured by the camera of the cellphone in real time. Thus, it uses mathematical formulas to position digital elements on the screen as if they were present in the physical environment shown by the lenses.

For example, when pointing the camera at a product, the software recognizes it as the make and model of the company and presents an information box floating next to it. Or, when pointing to the couch at home, you can have a virtual pet lying on it with a calculated perspective to present it convincingly in the real scenario.

It is one of the new technologies that stand out today for being sophisticated, but at the same time, increasingly accessible and comprehensive for businesses seeking to deliver innovative experiences to their customers. With the use of specialized software, it takes just good planning and creative ideas to enchant customers and increase their sales chances.

What is the difference between Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality?

There is still a lot of confusion about the terms Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), but there is an easy way to differentiate both concepts.

Simply put, we can say that Virtual Reality is about immersing the real person in a digital world. On the other hand, Augmented Reality is about bringing the digital world into the physical landscape of the person.  

In Virtual Reality, it is necessary to use more complex equipment, virtual reality goggles. They use optics and motion and position recognition to make the person believe they are in a new environment.

On the other hand, Augmented Reality is more direct and user-friendly because it can use just a cellphone as an experience tool. The environment remains the same, but it is enhanced by new visual possibilities on the device screen.

What are the applications of Augmented Reality in business? 

Many companies are studying the application of technologies such as Augmented Reality in their businesses and finding varied ways to adapt possibilities to their market objectives.

Discover the most common alternatives to using Augmented Reality with the objective of attraction, experience, and sales.

Additional information about Augmented Reality in products

Competition between brands ends up requiring competitive differentials from companies to stand out, mainly in physical sales in department stores and supermarkets

Thus, Augmented Reality can be used to expand sales pitches about competitors, without the need to invest in point-of-sales activations.

For example, with a QR Code, the consumer can point the cell phone screen to the product and insert multimedia information that makes it stand out from the others, in the environment captured by the camera

Viewing products in certain spaces with Augmented Reality

A widely explored alternative in Augmented Reality, that has a great impact on the buying decision is to do the opposite: bring the product to the consumer’s home.

This type of application is widely used in interior design companies. By pointing the camera at a space inside the house, you can see how the decorative items, furniture, and other equipment would be arranged and how they would match other elements of the residence.

For some consumer profiles, having this more concrete view of the product is a very convincing point when choosing the store and/or the product.

Exploration of details and features with Augmented Reality

Similarly, this visual insertion of a product in real physical space through Augmented Reality allows the user to have a more complete experience of exploring its characteristics.

By manipulating an item using Augmented Reality, it is possible to observe details at various angles and even its operation with the combination of 3D models and animation techniques. For companies that sell products online, this is one more opportunity to highlight their innovation differentials in the market.

Exploring exhibiting environments

Augmented Reality can also transform the relationship of the consumer with physical spaces, such as a custom store or an exhibition. With the use of Augmented Reality, the exploration expands to the virtual world, offering guidance, information, and interaction with certain spaces.

A simple, easy to understand example, would be a large department store. Via Augmented Reality, the space could contain indicators that point out categories in the physical space, where a particular product or digital advertising associated with specific areas of the store is located.

Playful interaction with brands and products

So far, we talked a lot about expanding the vision of products and spaces using Augmented Reality, but what if the technology was used for direct interaction with them? 

Increasingly complex Augmented Realities are enabling rich integration between the real world and the digital elements presented in it. The interaction between a physical product and a 3D model makes way for new consumer experiences that truly combine the two worlds into one.

The possibility of using the cellphone screen as an interface opens this kind of opportunity for companies that think creatively when presenting their brand.

Even the participation of the consumer in the experience becomes very interesting. We already see the use of Augmented Reality in video and photo apps, to insert visual elements that interact with the faces and bodies of the user, an engaging and fun way to use technology.

An example is L’Oréal’s makeup app,  which uses Augmented Reality to test different makeup combinations directly on one’s face in a photo or video.

Video games

And we cannot talk about Augmented Reality applications without mentioning video games. The playful and interactive nature of the technology fits very well with the proposal of some games.

The biggest example is the Pokémon Go game. It uses Augmented Reality on a mobile phone to put characters in the real world and encourages players to find them, which has become a worldwide sensation. In the five years since its launch, it has earned more than US$5 billion.

For the corporate world, Advergames, games made to promote a product or company, can do very well by using Augmented Reality as the focus of the experience. It is a way of combining engagement and the ability to make the brand go viral.

What are the benefits of Augmented Reality?

There are several applications for Augmented Reality being used on the market in recent years. And if this trend keeps growing in the corporate sector, it means that companies are seeing important benefits in the relationship between technology and business.

To better understand the advantages of Augmented Reality, we are going to highlight some of the key points that can make a difference in competitiveness.

Increased product interaction and exposure

Augmented Reality is an opportunity to expand the relationship between the consumer and the product at the time of purchase decision, offering virtual support for them to analyze features and possibilities in the real world.

The consumer feels more secure in relation to the sales pitch you present when there is this rich and engaging interaction. As we mentioned before, the brand allows the customer to predict the use of the product, have new relevant information about it, and explore additional details that might not be possible without the use of technology.

User experience customization

Another interesting fact about Augmented Reality is the possibility of using consumer data to shape the experience according to their taste and expectations.

Imagine being able to present information and bring specific interaction models to each customer. The integration between Augmented Reality and data intelligence makes sales pitches much more accurate for each consumer. And if the technology itself already uses Artificial Intelligence, this combination is simplified for the ideal UX (User Experience).

Support for sellers

Regarding sales increase, Augmented Reality can become an extra means of convincing in the hands of sellers, especially those who work in physical stores.

With proper training, they can even use their own devices and internal company solutions, which serve as support for information and explanations about the product that can be given more interactively.

The idea is to make the visit to the store itself a unique shopping experience, which combines real and virtual navigation throughout products and services.

Reduced costs

The investment barrier to entering Augmented Reality is diminishing as technologies and tools become more consolidated and available.

And the trend is that these services become increasingly common with companies that specialize in understanding the objectives of customer attraction and conversion and creating AR experiences to reach them. Considering cost-benefit, it is a technology capable of expanding how one can work the sale of a product without high investment.

Expansion of possibilities in POS

An example of this expansion of alternatives that Augmented Reality brings is in the point of sale of the company, whether in its own store or other retail stores.

POS traditionally requires greater investment in printed parts, and physical and professional structures to attract and demonstrate the differentials of a given product. By using Augmented Reality, this POS can become a digital experience without any need for intervention in the space

Using the product’s packaging, its QR Code, and use instructions, you can transform the buying experience through the customer’s mobile phone, with greater possibilities of interaction than you would have with a banner or kiosk.

Increased competitiveness

Augmented Reality can bring the virtual world to physical stores. It can also bring the physical environment of the customer or the customer himself into the virtual world. Considering how much technology still must evolve, we can say that Augmented Reality will play a very important role in the competitiveness of the future.

This type of experience expands reality in space perception and information acquisition. It can integrate experiences, advergames, and sales pitches. For businesses with creative leaders who like to use stages of innovation, it is a very interesting way to delight the customer with amazing interactions.

And that is related to competitiveness in the digital era. Consumers today seek more than simple consumption: they seek meaning and emotional connection with brands. Experiences such as Extended Reality are ideal to create this differential that connects with the expectations of the public and develops a deep bond.

What are the current challenges of this technology?

While very promising, Augmented Reality faces the same growing pains as any other technology. Some challenges and issues need greater attention from those who invest in it, but that can be overcome with intelligence and focus on the results expected with its use. Here are the main ones.

General knowledge of technology

As much as popular phenomena like Pokémon Go quickly help the public familiarize themselves with the technology, a large portion of the consumer group with greater buying power is not comfortable with Augmented Reality yet. 

This is a challenge that all technologies go through and, it usually dissipates over time and with the entry of new generations into the consumer market.

However, Augmented Reality has an advantage:  the tool used to disseminate it is already in the pockets of most people, who have a good level of familiarity with its use and type of interaction. 

Thus, it is easier to educate your audience about the use of Augmented Reality if you have a simple and engaging interaction that uses tools and elements they are already familiar with.

Augmented Reality aligned with Marketing Strategies

The relationship between marketing and technology is crucial for companies of the future, but some still have difficulty in this alignment. The result is usually the use of Augmented Reality without a clear goal of what commercial result is expected from that experience, making it a waste of professional effort and resources.

Therefore, like in any technology, the partnership between IT and marketing must be close and efficient, so that the implementation of Augmented Reality is based on real business objectives.

Integration of experience in processes of attraction and conversion

Do you remember when we talked about support for sellers? Augmented Reality is not so effective when the company’s sales sector does not know how to use it the way it was designed.

The lack of training in the use of these tools and their insertion in the customer journey leads the company to miss sales opportunities – customers who are interested in the experience, deepen their relationship with the brand but are not guided to the end of the journey.

How to implement AR?

It is almost impossible to find a standard recipe to implement Augmented Reality. The type of experience that will attract your audience always depends on your goals, the profile of the customers, the investment capacity, and the nature of the business.

But that doesn’t mean we cannot help. Regardless of what you have in mind for your audience’s experience with Augmented Reality, you can streamline the process and ensure positive results by paying attention to some key steps in planning and implementation. Check them out!

Understand the relation of your audience profile with the technology

As mentioned in the topic of challenges, there are still varied consumer profiles regarding their familiarity with Augmented Reality technology. That means your first question should be: how much is my audience willing to use and engage with virtual experiences?

By doing this research, you will find out clues on the best way of implementing AR, either on products, physical locations, consumer insertion in the experience, or all of these alternatives in an integrated way.

Focus on the user experience

Getting to know your audience better is also important for another key implementation step: creating experiences that match their expectations. We are talking specifically about the technical part of UX, the set of actions, sensations, and objectives that your Augmented Reality aims to deliver to the user.

For Augmented Reality to work the way you expect, it is necessary to have visual and language cohesion with the brand and the product. It needs to become a meaningful experience to the point the consumer keeps names and information in their minds

In addition, it must be aesthetically pleasant, fluid, and well-developed, so that there are no obstacles between that interaction and the final purpose of use. This part is fundamental: if you are going to invest in Augmented Reality, it is important to define your goal.

Does the company intend to engage the user more in its relationship with the brand?  Does it intend to use the platform to highlight product differentials more efficiently? Does the company want to build customer loyalty through pre and post-sale experiences or turn its own experience into a source of sales?

Depending on how you answer these questions, you can go on very different paths within Augmented Reality. That’s why it is so important to have that definition before it begins.

Think of ways to expand the vision of your product

Those who create Augmented Reality just to do it, not only miss the opportunity to grow from it but also cause a sense of wasted interaction by the customer.  If you are going to create an experience, let it be unique and meaningful.

You can do this by thinking of ways the virtual environment can expand the journey of discovery and knowledge of a particular product.

How can the customer manipulate the product in a real and virtual integration to further highlight the differentials of what you offer? This question is vital to guide your Augmented Reality strategy. 

There are two stars in your experience: the consumer and the product. Therefore, find ways to highlight both and interestingly connect them.

Invest in technology beyond AR

Augmented Reality alone is a very interesting technology for marketing actions and sales. However, it is very difficult to get the maximum of its potential if the company is not investing in processes and technological solutions for management and operation.  

After all, we talk a lot about knowing the audience and the use of data intelligence to customize this experience. This is only possible with a true  Digital Transformation, using integrated business systems and multidisciplinary teams for a more dynamic routine. 

This creative foundation at the core of the business expands to innovative ideas of attraction in various areas, including the use of Augmented Reality.

It is a more comprehensive view of the audience, market, and how the company can position itself in this new competitiveness. It’s a predictive analysis based on experiences, interaction, engagement, and emotional connection.

Did you like the article and want to discuss even more about the possibilities of Augmented Reality? Take the opportunity to share the post on your social networks and talk to your contacts.