One powerful driver behind this is technology, which has advanced considerably over the last few decades. This innovation shapes consumer behavior and dictates what companies can and can’t do digitally.
Augmented reality is one such innovation, and its capacity to enrich the shopping experience is having a real impact on consumer behavior.
It is a subject worthy of debate, particularly since it will have a huge bearing on marketing strategies in the near future, if not already.
But what is augmented reality, and how is it affecting customer behavior?
Let’s have a look:
What is Augmented Reality?
Put simply, augmented reality (AR) is an enhanced version of the real world.
This technology takes what we see around us, and superimposes computer-generated content over it, in the form of sound, images, graphics, and locational data.
And, while some might read this and think “novelty”, augmented reality is actually as important an invention as the iPhone. Underpinned by artificial intelligence, it is the gateway to the metaverse, and will go some way to shaping the future of our digital lives.
It’s already big business, but augmented reality is expected to grow into a $250 billion industry by 2028 (Statista). This will be facilitated by the roll out of 5G, which will significantly boost the potential of this technology.
It shouldn’t be confused with virtual reality, which offers a completely digital experience, with viewers blind to the real world around them.
Virtual reality also requires a lot of expensive hardware. By contrast, one of the great things about augmented reality is how accessible it is for consumers, who only need a smartphone with a working camera.
There are now over six billion of these devices in use around the world (Statista), and this means that companies that integrate augmented reality into their marketing strategies can realistically expect consumers to access it.
Augmented Reality & the Customer Experience
Customer experience - or CX - matters because it dictates the decision-making processes of consumers.
There is a lot of evidence to back this up; 65% of people are more influenced by CX than traditional advertising (PwC), while 74% are more likely to buy by virtue of this factor alone (Forbes).
Ultimately, a great CX will help your company stand out from the competition - it attracts new customers, increases your capacity to retain existing ones, and improves your reputation.
As such, it is considered fundamental to the sustained growth of any business - but what defines a great CX?
Put simply, a great CX is one that puts the customer first, and is designed so that every part of the customer journey is personalized and stress-free. And when it comes to marketing and the internet, companies need to find the best way to bring their products to life.
Augmented reality is great in this regard. The way that it pulls the digital and real world together provides an opportunity for companies to create memorable and immersive experiences for consumers, who will connect with them on a more emotional level.
For instance, instead of simply browsing images of clothes on a website, consumers can virtually walk through the store, select something to try on, and then see what they look like in them.
This technology is fun but still relatively new, novel, and exciting for consumers, and is therefore a great way to increase engagement.
Research backs this up, with AR-powered experiences returning a conversion rate that is 94% higher than traditional marketing (Deloitte).
Real-World Examples of Augmented Reality
Augmented reality has been around for a while, but is probably best known for its use in Snapchat filters and the world of online gaming.