How AR, VR is reshaping the world of advertising and marketing

Virtual and augmented reality technology create a fake but realistic environment

KERALA: From wall paintings and posters to highly advanced digital medium tools, the world of marketing and advertising has undergone groundbreaking transformation over the years. And now, with the internet at customers' fingertips, marketers are making use of advanced technologies like virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (VR) for their advertising campaigns. 

According to a Statista report, the global VR market is growing at a fast pace, and is projected to increase from around $5 billion in 2021 to more than $12 billion by 2024. When it comes to AR, the number of mobile users of this tech is expected to reach over 800 million and is forecast to grow to 1.73 billion in the next three years. 

As the popularity of smartphones has reached an all-time high among Indians, marketers are keener in using AR than VR, as VR advertising demands specific devices like Virtual Reality Headsets. However, advertising campaigns using AR are more effective in countries like India, as it does not need a head-mounted display, and can be accessed using a smartphone. Data suggests that both VR and AR will become equally popular among marketers by the end of 2024. 

Considering its immense potential to boost the conversion rate, more and more brands are incorporating virtual reality (VR) into their marketing strategy. The implementation of VR and AR technology in marketing is providing great help to e-commerce companies too, as it allows the customer to make a proper buying decision after viewing the product in different dimensions on a virtual platform. 

Virtual Reality Marketing: All you need to know

The appeal of virtual reality marketing is its life-like quality and that it can provide a completely immersive experience to customers. This immersive experience can be attained using a VR headset, while a VR Instagram filter simply overlays objects or pictures onto the camera view. 

On the other hand, augmented reality is a type of virtual reality where a digital image is overlaid in the real world. Brands tend to prefer AR marketing strategy as it does not demand specific hardware like headsets to offer an immersive experience. Moreover, AR is more accessible to customers, as it just demands a smartphone or desktop. 

The success story of Sephora

It was French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products, Sephora, which initially popularised augmented reality marketing with its Virtual Artist app. This augmented reality feature allowed users to upload a selfie to virtually try on various products that can be purchased from its platform. 

Later, the company launched a new update that allowed users to view themselves moving in real-time with digital makeup. Sephora's Virtual Artist app now has a more interesting user experience with live 3D movement. 

Try products before purchasing

The success of Sephora's AR advertising campaign gave several brands the courage to launch their virtual reality marketing initiatives. The introduction of AR tools literally helped the e-commerce industry, as over 60 per cent of e-commerce returns are because the product doesn’t meet the customer’s expectations. 

As customers get a chance to try the products before purchasing, returns could be reduced to a great extent, and it will also catalyse the conversion rates. According to a Deloitte report, several industries including furniture, makeup, and shoe companies are reaping benefits from augmented and virtual reality marketing. 

Ikea's successful AR advertising campaign

Swedish home furniture brand Ikea is another company that is successfully carrying out its AR-powered advertising campaign. The brand’s AR app Ikea Place allows customers to see how furniture will look in their home interiors before they buy. Customer testimonials indicate that the app has improved user experience over the previous website. 

Try your shoes on Gucci AR 

Recently, luxury apparel brand Gucci launched an AR feature in its app to promote the new line of Ace sneakers and other shoes. This advanced feature allows users to know how the shoes will fit on their feet, and thus they will be able to make the most perfect buying decision. The app is also capable to track movements, and it helps the customers to view the shoes from different angles. 

Harnessing the power of VR and making way to MR

Augmented reality and virtual reality are currently in use among marketers all across the globe. By ensuring an immersive experience to customers, these technologies help boost brand recognition and sales for the company. However, in the future, mixed reality (MR) will also grab the attention of brands. 

Mixed reality is nothing but a blend of VR and AR and it creates an environment in which digital and physical objects can interact. To make things clear, MR allows marketers to put virtual products in consumers’ hands and gauge their responses. 

Clearly, given the rapacious uptake of AR and VR by brands, the day’s not far when mixed reality too will become a part of their marketing mix. In fact, Statista pegs MR's market size to grow from $47 million in 2018 to over $3.7 billion by 2025. With more consumers eager to take part in digital experiences, marketers are bound to comply.

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