What if we told you there was a way to add an element of interactivity to your next marketing campaign that was not only highly scalable but also generated new insights into your customers’ mindset?
And what if it were not only easy to build but easy to deploy? And it drives serious ROI?
Augmented reality marketing campaigns do all of this and more. Even better, you can get started and launch your first campaign in weeks, not months.
In this post, we’ll give you a quick overview of augmented reality benefits and some real-life examples of augmented reality marketing that you can use to inspire activities for your own brand. We’ll cover:
- A quick intro to AR technology
- How to:
- Inspire user-generated content with the help of augmented reality
- Launch products or brand activations with augmented reality scavenger hunts
- Level-up in store marketing with AR
- Bring your branding materials to life
Plus, we’ll give you recent examples of brands leading the way in AR marketing in 2023.
Let’s get started.
What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Before we dive into use cases and real-world examples, let’s get going with a quick definition of augmented reality.
Augmented reality (or AR, as it’s primarily known) is a type of 3D experience that adds digital layers to a user’s real world environment. In its most common use case, customers experience AR technology through their mobile device, using their camera to place a 3D experience into the physical world around them.
AR technology isn’t new, but the way it’s evolved over the last decade has made it so much easier to spin up for even last-minute AR marketing campaigns.
If you’re keen to learn more, go ahead and dive deeper with our core guide to augmented reality, where we cover:
- the differences between augmented and virtual reality,
- delivering experiences using WebAR, and
- why augmented reality is so valuable for brands
What are the Benefits of Augmented Reality for Marketing Campaigns?
AR has a place in almost all modern marketing and sales strategies, whether you run point on advertising for luxury brands like Gucci or have a niche like the auto industry.
The augmented reality experience offers a key benefit in that it drives demand by bringing your product and your brand even closer to the customer.
Of course, an AR interface isn’t the only way to close the gap between customers and products. But the benefits of using AR experiences in your marketing tactics are unique to other methods like live brand activations because an AR interface includes an opportunity to:
- Deliver immersive, interactive experiences directly to customers via their own devices
- Let your customers try before they buy in the physical locations that help them make purchasing decisions
- Create and share new types of engagement data to feed into the rest of your marketing and sales strategies
- Make your brand more accessible to more types of potential customers and meet them in their everyday lives
- Level up other experiential marketing tactics with a measurable virtual component
- Create buzz around your brand with fun elements
- Guide purchase decisions and boost sales by layering an AR experience with in-app purchase decisions
However, there are more benefits that are just as strategic but aren’t as novel as adding new data points to your arsenal or increasing your chances of going viral.
For example, AR experiences aren’t just engaging and increasingly expected by customers. They’re also incredibly scalable and cost-effective, particularly when you use WebAR. Unlike delivering digital marketing campaigns through paid ads or partnerships alone, augmented reality experiences add new elements to the campaign that customers not only love and can engage with but are also far more trackable.
For example, Ocavu customers like to track not just the number of sessions but the consumer behavior, such as the number of interactions in the AR experience and the duration and engagement during the session.
4 AR Marketing Ideas (with Examples for Inspiration)
AR marketing isn’t about taking your beloved playbook and throwing it out the door. On the contrary, there are so many ways to enrich your traditional marketing strategies with AR technology.
Let’s see what brands you love have been doing with augmented reality technology lately.
1. Inspire Impactful User-Generated Content with AR Layered Social Media Campaigns
User-generated content is the fairy dust of marketing strategy. Marketers love it, businesses love it, and consumers love it. But if you’re not a brand that buyers love to flaunt on social media just yet, generating that content isn’t so easy. It’s not as simple as “ask and you will receive.”
Customers don’t just post their favorite brands because they happen to be on their phones. We’re well past the era of posting every dinner plate or exciting new purchase. Today’s consumers create content to get something back: maybe it’s clout from their followers or attention from the brand itself. But that “something back” can also be about getting something unique from your brand experience.
Here’s where augmented reality can enter into your digital marketing strategy. By layering in AR experiences, you give your buyers a headstart in the creative process, and you give them something back through the power of an added experience.
How Kind Uses AR Marketing to Improve Brand Perception
In April 2023, Kind launched a new multi-layered augmented reality and virtual reality marketing campaign through Snapchat.
Kind’s marketing around its sustainability initiatives is always creative, and its Almond Acres Initiative followed the same vein. Kind isn’t preachy, and the brand goes beyond words in its commitment to sustainability. So it’s no surprise that they want customers to experience that part of their brand, too.
The layered campaign starts on Snapchat with an AR experience that allows Snapchat users to look around their Almond Acres Initiative using their mobile devices.
The Kind team also embedded assets into the experience for more brand messaging plus something extra.
Within the experience, users access filters that transform them into an almond or a bee. This element of fun is what’s giving the consumer something in return and incentivizes user-generated content.
How Gucci Used User-Generated Content to Grow Its Customer Base
Sometimes user-generated content isn’t just about storytelling. It can also easily be pivoted to expand your brand reach by meeting your buyers where they are and giving them “something more” with social campaigns on TikTok, Instagram, and Snap.
Do you remember Gucci’s AR try-on on Snap? You couldn’t avoid it at the time, so it’s no surprise that the AR try-on campaign had a unique reach of 18.9M, a figure completely improbable if they used strictly owned ecommerce sales or in store shopping. It was a huge brand building exercise among a new generation of potential Gucci buyers. And those Gucci sneakers? They became a must-have, and AR made their campaign go viral.
Gucci’s Snap campaign wasn’t their first rodeo. Gucci was one of the first luxury brands to fully embrace AR experiences. They also designed and released virtual sneakers in Roblox and VRChat in 2021 as digital collectibles that also enhance the user experience. Are Roblox users Gucci’s target audience? Not yet, but the luxury brand is planting the seeds of brand recognition early.
2. Get Experiential with Augmented Reality Scavenger Hunts
Are you going through a product launch or looking to really increase brand awareness? You can use AR technology and your own creativity to create unique, rich, and entertaining experiences like scavenger hunts.
Scavenger hunts are already a tried-and-tested form of guerilla and experiential marketing because they offer incredible value through gamification. The best part: with AR technology, scavenger hunts can be incredibly resource-light, just ask Shake Shack.
How Shake Shack Used Augmented Reality Marketing to Launch a New Product
In April 2023, Shake Shack launched its own augmented reality scavenger hunt in New York City, where its brand value is already incredibly strong. The team at Shake Shack used a scavenger hunt to launch its new white truffle burger, driving sales both for its limited menu and for the rest of Shake Shack’s menu.
How did it work? Shake Shack launched digital billboards in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. Consumers had to spot the billboard and scan the QR code. They then arrive on a page where they could “dig” for prizes, hoping for the top prize of $2,000.
The scavenger hunt was the perfect brand experience. First, customers were on the lookout for the billboards across the city, keeping Shake Shack top of mind for weeks. Second, the AR game linked to the billboards perfectly tied into both the truffle and the scavenger hunting theme. “Hunting” the city for billboards and “digging” up digital assets through an AR experience perfectly link up with the truffle concept menu.
How difficult was it to stand up a campaign like this once they landed on a concept? We’ll hazard a confident guess.
With the right partner and their cutting-edge technology, the digital elements were likely not only easy to set up but just as to scale across other campaigns. Thanks to QR codes, delivering the campaign to customers was straightforward. The most difficult part of the campaign would have ironically been figuring out how to wrangle the traditional media channel: getting billboard space in NYC.
3. Level Up In-Store Shopping with Augmented Reality
As marketers (and consumers), we are all bemused by what’s now called “the Target Effect”, otherwise known as heading into Target for a few household items and very happily leaving with $250 in impulse purchases.
The Target Effect is not the 8th natural wonder of the world. It’s the product of one of the most innovative companies in the United States leading the way in design thinking to enhance its in-store effect on its customers. The redesigned beauty section, the decision to partner with Starbucks, and the subtle cross-promotion of products are all decisions made based on the psychology of design and marketing. (Plus, we’d like to note that Target added an AR feature to its mobile shopping app way back in 2017, and when Target leads, we should all follow.)
You can not only create the Target Effect for your in-store experience but you can take it further and consider how AR can improve the customer experience and add new elements for interaction in your store.
Here are a few ideas:
- Build AR into your existing app to help with store navigation
- Combine your AR marketing campaigns with in-store campaigns to bring together your channels
- Gamify the shopping experience with an AR app or even better WebAR
How Marks & Spencer Used Augmented Reality to Build an Omnichannel Empire
When your customers say “it’s just easier to shop online,” a lot of companies take them literally and then tend to invest in the e-commerce experience. But you don’t have to take your foot off the pedal of the in store experience. In fact, we think that’s a mistake. Because an augmented reality experience can help you solve pain points for customers and get them back in store as well as close the gaps in your omnichannel experience.
Look to Marks and Spencer (M&S) to see just how it’s done. The retailer was closing its European stores well before the COVID-19 pandemic caused havoc for brick and mortar retailers. Many people thought the European giant was largely done. But M&S came back to improve the in-store experience with the help of a digitally immersive experience.
M&S has invested heavily in its omnichannel experience with a new AR app called List & Go, which helps customers navigate the store to find exactly what they came in for.
4. Bring Your Branding Materials to Life with Augmented Reality
We create the traditional leave-behind to do a lot with a little. We add enough detail to encourage the recipient to continue the journey and have conversations with others. But we’re limited in what we can and can’t share because time and space are of the essence.
Augmented reality is the secret weapon to building your brand experience and starting out every relationship with an incredible customer experience. And it’s easier than you think because we’ve helped customers like REI and Abbyson Living add it to things like their brand magazine and product packaging.
By adding QR codes to your printed materials, you’re no longer delivering a single key takeaway. Instead, you’re handing over the keys to an interactive highlights reel that can be as simple or complex as your target audience needs it to be. Plus, it’s scalable. All they have to do is scan printed materials with any mobile device, which means they can share your message far and wide without you needing to spend another cent.
What happens when you start using augmented reality in marketing materials? You’re guaranteed to:
- Leave a stronger brand and or product perception
- Boost prospect and customer engagement
- Improve customer satisfaction with a streamlined sales process
- Shorten the sales cycle by heightening demand
Where can you add QR codes? Anywhere including:
- Business cards
- Product packaging
- Product sheets
- Sales materials
- Expo booths
In essence, if you can print it, you can add a QR code to it and start enjoying the benefits of augmented reality.
Are You Ready for Augmented Reality Marketing?
The question is: what role does augmented reality play in your marketing strategies? The answer going forward should be to: enhance experiences, track new types of valuable intent data, and unlock campaign creativity in ways that you can’t with traditional digital marketing tactics.
The best part: getting started with augmented reality in marketing is easier than you think. And it can even streamline your marketing efforts by allowing you to scale your digital campaigns
Are you ready to learn more? Get in touch to learn about Ocavu’s augmented reality solutions.