Augmented reality (AR) is not a new tool, nor is it new to marketers. In fact the adoption of AR as an effective tool across categories and platforms is accelerating at an impressive rate. However, many still consider AR capabilities a novelty, particularly within the context of selling a physical product. We have seen plenty of AR marketing activations throughout the years, but far fewer with measureable or substantial results. This is where “new” enters the AR conversation.
AR remains a highly engaging form of entertainment and an attractor of consumer attention, but even applications that started as pure entertainment are evolving to deliver more than brand equity. Brands deploying augmented reality on their digital channels, and specifically their websites, are driving meaningful business results worthy of turning heads. These include:
4x time spent on site
11x likelihood to purchase
64% less likely to make a return
The introduction of webAR and the prevalence of smart devices with AR capabilities has also enabled the use of augmented reality at scale, without the need and hassle of a specialty app or additional hardware to access the experience. This allows brands to quickly build, iterate and deploy touch points consumers are eager to interact with, while generating real and meaningful value from the investment.
There are few product categories Target does not serve in some capacity, and their success in serving their customers’ needs and wants at impressive scale cannot be argued. They have created an almost cult-like following and loyalty among their customers, largely based on product availability and variety, but also the convenient and consistent experience they deliver both in-store and online.
Among retailers who have deployed augmented reality, Target is a leader in quickly expanding the number and types of products available in AR, as well as the degree of accessibility they offer. Unlike many, Target has gone beyond adding AR to their branded app, a tactic many have employed as a means of encouraging the use of their app, and instead committed to offering their website shoppers the same immersive experience to aid in their product discovery and purchase decisions.
Ulta is not the first beauty brand to capitalize on AR, but in the last year they have accelerated their efforts and results with activations on SnapChat, GLAMlab on their website and app, and integrations in both their full scale stores and shop-in-shop properties with Target. Like Target, they are laser focused on delivering a consistent and compelling experience for buyers, boosting the confidence customers have at the time of purchase and cementing their position as a premier beauty retailer. Ulta’s first shopping enabled AR campaign with Snapchat drove over $6 million in sales and 30 million product try-ons, demonstrating users’ affinity for the immersive shopping experience. Unsurprisingly, GLAMlab usage skyrocketed during 2020 in light of the global pandemic, but in light of consumers’ interest in AR enabled shopping, Ulta has continued to refine and expand the tool’s capabilities to pivot alongside changing consumer behavior. GLAMlab now features over 4,000 products available from the retailer, and AR try-ons are available in-store and online to facilitate easy and contact free product testing.
Warby Parker was an early leader in the market for easy at home try-ons for eyewear, but despite the immense popularity of their model, it was still subject to waiting for the frame to arrive. While they still offer their signature at home service, virtual try-on is now available across the brand's eyeglass and sunglass offerings directly on a desktop, as well as on mobile and in the Warby Parker app.