The list of companies experimenting with augmented reality and virtual reality as a marketing and customer engagement tool is long and growing. Ikea and Wayfair offer AR apps that make it possible for shoppers to see what furniture will look like in their homes. Patron invites fans to take a virtual trip to Jalisco, Mexico to tour the tequila-making from agave fields to bottling.
From Cadbury to Uber to NASCAR to MTV, brands use AR and VR to enhance their emotional connection to consumers. Thanks in part to the excitement of mixed reality experiences, the global market size for AR and VR technologies is expected to reach nearly $95 billion by 2023.
But, dabbling in the technology isn’t right for every brand. That’s a guiding principle for Interbrand’s Eileen Vogl, a senior consultant, and David Weinberg, a strategy consultant, as they educate clients on how best to incorporate the technology into their messaging. Vogl and Weinberg recently chatted with V by Viacom about the rise of mixed reality technology and best practices for use in business.
V by Viacom: Why should brands integrate AR and VR into the consumer experience and how can they do it in a way that’s not just, ‘Hey, look what we can do.’
David Weinberg: AR and VR enable us to take the connections that brands have with their audiences to the next level. It allows brands to connect with people in a more tangible, hands-on way. The trick is to do it in an on-brand way rather than doing it for the sake of doing it. Marketers need to ask the question, ‘How does it enhance the story we’re telling and what aspects of the business does it integrate best into?’
Eileen Vogl: The assumption is that it is important to have a presence in AR and VR, but I think restraint should be practiced. The real key is, how can it add value? What is the right context for a brand to interject and participate in whatever experience they’re having and add value to that experience?
V: VR was all the rage a few years ago, but it seems like AR is where it’s at now since the technology is more accessible. Is this what you’re finding?
DW: That’s totally true. Everyone who has access to a mobile phone can participate in AR. But for VR you’d need proper headgear that’s expensive and not attainable to the mass market.
EV: It’s really expensive. Companies like Google are trying to bridge that gap with Google Cardboard where you fold it up and slide your iPhone into it to have a VR experience. But not that much is being developed yet. Gamers are the biggest subset of the general audience who’d put down money for it but even then it’s limited.
V: What are examples of companies doing mixed reality really well?
DW: Uber did a pop-up shop in Switzerland using augmented reality showcasing all the places they can go to as they try to position themselves as a travel company. It allows users to travel to those places through augmented reality. Some Infiniti car dealerships are using AR with consumers who want to test drive their cars.
V: How can brands monetize these experiences without alienating consumers?
DW: It loops back to consistency. At Interbrand, when we’re building an experience for brands we focus on authenticity. If the focus of a game that uses AR is around sports, it doesn’t make sense to push a furniture manufacturer into the space. Brands are all about building a connection between audience and businesses. If a brand that’s totally unrelated to that hyper-moment doesn’t fit in, that emotional connection is totally lost.