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Can brands do more to incentivize customer interaction across digital channels? Even when Augmented Reality (AR) or Gamification is thrown into the mix?

We learn through play: that’s a given. Incentives, rewards, prizes. The usual tropes about ‘carrots and sticks’ appealing to our competitive sides are true, it seems. So, gamification would make sense.

But how can brands use this to their advantage? And given the rise of AR in particular – is there a way to reconcile these burgeoning technologies with effective incentive-driven engagement?

AR 101

While AR has been around for a while, its watershed moment came three years ago when Pokemon Go launched across mobile devices. The knock-on effect was that the game acclimatized consumers to AR technology. By making it user-friendly, and showcasing its engagement potential.

Needless to say, brands have been quick to follow suit (although to be fair, many were on it already). But can they really recreate the same sense of fun, competition, and playfulness when a commercial objective is involved?

Let’s consider the evidence…

Try Before You Buy

Remember that scene in the movie ‘Fight Club’ where the guy reading a furniture catalogue imagines the items appearing in his apartment? Fast forward 20 years and AR allows us to do exactly that using our phones and tablets.

Popular apps like Ikea’s Place and Amazon’s AR View both allow users to see what a particular item will look like in situation. And provide a fun and engaging way of mix and matching homeware items.

In a similar way, online shopping is adopting AR via virtual try-on apps. These are win-win for all concerned. On one hand, they help brands drive purchases and reduce returned items. And on the other hand, for consumers, they provide a truly useful and yet still entertaining service.

For example, the Wanna Kicks app allows shoppers to try on a virtual pair of sneakers. Better yet, it even tracks foot movements and lets you share images on social media. For those looking for new shades, Ray-Ban offers a virtual try on app too, and Cover Girl’s Beauty U app overlays a range of different looks onto the faces of the cosmetically inclined.

These sorts of apps are by no means unique. Even wineries and craft breweries are getting in on the action.

Offer More In-Store

However, it’s not just online retailers looking for a unique route to market that are using AR and gamification. Apps like these can add an extra layer of engagement to bricks and mortar stores too.

Store signage, for example, can be used as both the prompt for customers to download an AR app – by presenting a QR code – and can also function as the object that ‘reveals’ the overlaid animation. This is a great way to showcase new brand content, and reward customers who download the app with an interactive promotion – such as an exclusive offer or discount. Or, if nothing else, apps can simply keep customers entertained and provide a fun and engaging brand experience.

But that doesn’t mean that something entertaining and innovative can’t serve a practical purpose. Sneaker brand, Airwalk created an invisible pop up store; encouraging customers in real-locations to shop on the fly.

Gamification and Entertainment

But what about Virtual Reality? While the virtual world of ‘Ready Player One’ may be some way off, and given that fact VR still needs to find its killer breakthrough app, it’s likely that AR will supercede it in marketing space for now.

But as VR headsets become more affordable and companies like WeChat forge ahead with their VR plans, gradually the feasibility of VR marketing will come to fruition. Again, given the rise in VR gaming – such as Nintendo’s Labo VR kit – it’s likely that gaming will lead the way. Therefore, creating the audiences that marketers want to engage with.

If gamification is, at its core, a way of keeping users entertained while increasing their likelihood to purchase, then marketers like those referenced above have got it licked. In fact, stats show that 67% of media planners and buyers already want AR/VR ads in digital marketing campaigns.

Overall, as smartphone technology gets more sophisticated, and commonplace, we’re going to see an increase in these technologies used as a marketing medium.

Still not clear on how you can use augmented reality to boost your brand’s marketing?

Contact my team today!

One Response to Ready Customer One? Gamification & AR In Commerce

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