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Augmented Reality (AR) Is A Powerful Retail Tool — Snapchat

Mobile games and face filters are some of the most popular applications of augmented reality (AR) — but a recent study shows how consumers and the retail industry are starting to welcome this technology as well.

In partnership with the research agency Alter Agents, Snapchat and Publicis Media had recently explored the effects of branded AR in a buyer’s purchasing experience and decision. Branded AR is one that “promotes a product, service, or brand,” Snapchat says on their website.

As it turns out, AR does more than entertain consumers, although it is a pretty charming tool as well. In their research, Snapchat, Publicis Media, and Alter Agents found how vital AR is in improving the customer journey — from attention to conversion. So in this article, we will detail the groups’ findings and how you can apply them to your business.

What the Study Found About Augmented Reality and Its Impact On Retail

The Methods

The researchers set out to examine a question — how does AR affect consumers’ interaction with brands? Or, more specifically, how will this technology influence their buying decision toward a brand that uses AR?

To answer this question, the groups conducted a quantitative survey consisting of 1,000 people from ages 13 to 49, all of whom were either smartphone users or people who did not reject AR technology. In addition to this method, they also employed mobile ethnography, targeting those who have used AR for shopping. Mobile ethnography is essentially observing respondents through their mobile behavior, according to Angelfish.

Image credits to Canva

The Results

What the researchers found was nothing short of astonishing, especially for companies that have been contemplating integrating AR into their business strategy. Here are a few of their notable findings:

  1. More than half of consumers actively seek out AR in brands.
  2. While the pandemic undeniably increased the welcome use of AR, this technology can see continued use in a post-pandemic world.
  3. Throughout the consumer journey, AR has a particular use.

These findings indicate how AR has evolved into a meaningful tool in retail rather than a superficial digital trick. More than half of the consumers in the study noted they actively sought out branded AR. And often, these consumers search for this through the cameras of digital platforms. Snapchat is right — given these figures, it’s imperative for companies to develop a camera strategy to achieve “long-term brand success”.

The study also found 57% of consumers said they “will increase their use of AR post-pandemic”. This number shows a majority of users have found value in branded AR experiences and is a reassuring testament to AR’s longevity. 

And lastly, according to Snapchat, two in three consumers, who have shared they are likely to use branded AR, said they will probably buy after the experience. These figures increase with specific AR experiences. But what exactly are these experiences?

Retail Experiences Most Likely to Benefit from Augmented Reality, According to the Study

Among the eight augmented reality experiences — oriented toward retail — included in the study, the following were most instrumental in converting.

  • Home Decor — 73%
  • Product Personalization — 73%
  • Virtual Try-on — 72%
  • Product Demonstration — 70%
  • Fitness and Exercise — 69%

Each experience plays a certain role in one or more consumer journey stages, the study found. When it came to AR-based home decor experiences, consumers had claimed they are inspired to buy the product and are better informed about it, too. This experience also supports their decision to buy. AR-based home decor experiences could range from furniture to wall paint to room arrangement.

Virtual try-ons play a similar role, except they also “make [consumers] like the product, brand, or services,” the study says. For this reason, fashion and cosmetic brands benefit from this the most, especially since their saleability hinges on a customer’s positive perception of themselves when using the brands’ products. 

Last year, at the height of the pandemic, luxury jewelry brand Kendra Scott had to close its doors temporarily because of widespread lockdown. So using augmented reality technology, the company implemented a virtual try-on tool to continue their retail business.

There are big opportunities for companies and brands that value augmented reality technology as a retail tool. Your business doesn’t need to rely completely on brick-and-mortar sales. Instead, it can branch out to other possibilities to reach out to its audience. And today, AR is looking to be the ideal candidate for your business to strengthen or create new connections.

Image credits to Canva

The Future of Augmented Reality in Retail

Based on the current trend in augmented reality technology and retail, companies should start thinking about how they can utilize the physical and digital spaces to form a more holistic business strategy. 

More and more companies use branded AR to help their target audience and customers make smart purchasing decisions. So it’s clear how AR gives you a competitive advantage over businesses similar to yours.

In addition to the study’s findings, author of Augmented Human (2017) Dr. Helen Papagiannis writes in Harvard Business Review that physical retail should adapt to consumers’ growing need for augmented reality experiences. Businesses with products or services users can try on should especially start integrating AR into their strategy as “[v]irtual try-on experiences are an excellent use case for AR in retail,” Dr. Papagiannis says.

So how exactly will augmented reality influence the future of retail? The company behind the automotive virtual reality application RelayCars shares some of their insights on how AR can transform the landscape of retail.

  • Product launches can be available in the virtual space, made possible by AR and technology’s interconnectivity.
  • With AR-based personalized shopping experiences, companies can integrate virtual try-on and AI-enabled shopping features.
  • Real-time customer feedback is possible with AR, which will give users a customized shopping experience.
  • Augmented reality complements eco-friendly shopping, which has seen a rise in recent years.
  • Augmented reality can enhance a retail brand’s storytelling.

In Summary

Why is augmented reality a powerful tool in retail? According to Snapchat and Publicis Media, in partnership with Alter Agents, AR is a powerful tool mainly because:

  • A majority of consumers actively seek out branded AR.
  • AR technology sees continued use among users even in a post-pandemic world.
  • AR technology influences users throughout the consumer journey.

The researchers also found the following AR experiences to be the most likely to convert:

  • Home Decor — 73%
  • Product Personalization — 73%
  • Virtual Try-on — 72%
  • Product Demonstration — 70%
  • Fitness and Exercise — 69%

Want to integrate AR into your next digital project? Then you’ve landed on the right page. 

NarraSoft offers augmented reality art development and 3D digital art creation services. And we are more than happy to help you build an amazing digital project with you.

Send us an email at sales@narrasoft.com or message our contact form or chat box. We will give you a free consultation, so contact us today!

Sources: Snap | FN | Gartner | Harvard Business Review | RelayCars.com | Angelfish