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Augmented Reality has arrived: Exploring the rich, untapped future of AR for brand CX

by | May 20, 2021 | Public Relations

Augmented Reality (AR) has been tossed around for a couple of years as a powerful fledgling tool for brands and business communicators, but hasn’t quite landed yet on the strategy spectrum. But that’s about to change—new research from Deloitte Digital and Snap Inc. explores the potential of this technology, and the findings affirm AR’s role as the next frontier of mobile and digital engagement and identify how AR can help brands elevate their customer experience.

The firms’ new Consumer Augmented Reality report, which evaluated responses from 15,000 U.S. domestic and international consumers, about half of which use Snapchat, shows that AR has the power to impact a business’ bottom line, not only driving customer connections but significantly driving conversions.

Augmented Reality has arrived: Exploring the rich, untapped future of AR for brand CX

AR has made the move to utility

It’s no longer seen as just a toy (used to try out hairstyles or send playful videos between friends), but now as a meaningful engagement tool for brands, where consumers can, for example, virtually try on beauty products or envision a piece of furniture in their home. This growth in AR usage represents how virtual commerce is becoming more accessible, ultimately changing the shopping experience for consumers.

“As AR evolves, it will revolutionize our lives and become as significant of a technology shift as the web or mobile was to society, changing how we view and interact with the world around us,” said Allan Cook, managing director of Deloitte Consulting LLP, and digital reality business leader at Deloitte Digital, in a news release. “The report shows that AR is really only in the beginning stages of being integrated in our everyday activities and is poised to make the journey from our cameras today to smart glasses tomorrow.”

Augmented Reality has arrived: Exploring the rich, untapped future of AR for brand CX

AR provides a transparent, “try before you buy” customer experience

This expansion of AR usage is having a major impact on brands and how purchasing decisions are made, especially as consumers seek a more personalized and engaged experience. The report noted that companies with branded AR experiences are 41 percent more likely to be considered by consumers, and nearly 3 in 4 consumers say they’re willing to pay more for a product that promises the transparency that AR can provide.

It’s also changing how consumers engage with products they’re looking to buy, with 56 percent agreeing AR gives them more confidence about product quality and over half indicating they want to use AR technology to assess products, allowing for a risk free “try before you buy” experience.

Augmented Reality has arrived: Exploring the rich, untapped future of AR for brand CX

From toy to tool: shifting consumer use cases

Currently, 67 percent of consumers use AR primarily at home for functions including: communication (74 percent), gaming (55 percent), media and entertainment (52 percent), and shopping (41 percent). AR is used the most by consumers to bring joy to their lives, with 65 percent noting they use AR to have fun. As use of AR grows, in the next year consumers plan on using AR more in four key growth areas: media (50 percent), shopping (46 percent), gaming (41 percent) and communications (35 percent).

Augmented Reality has arrived: Exploring the rich, untapped future of AR for brand CX

COVID-19 accelerates AR investment and adoption

Pandemic restrictions reinforced AR as a way to bridge between the physical and digital, and now worldwide spend on AR/VR is expected to accelerate from just over $12 billion this year to $72.8 billion in 2024. The report found that over half of consumers indicate COVID-19 has made AR digital experiences (56 percent) and tech innovations (59 percent) more important.

Augmented Reality has arrived: Exploring the rich, untapped future of AR for brand CX

Download the full report here.

The “Snap Consumer AR Global Report,” conducted by Deloitte Digital and commissioned by Snap Inc., surveyed respondents through a 20-minute online survey, alongside over 50 interviews with AR experts.  Deloitte Digital drew from years of experience helping clients assess, prepare and implement digital innovations to define current and future use cases for AR and forecast category growth. 

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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