How AR is Revolutionizing Retail Marketing: Virtual Sunglasses Try-ons
Why is AR Popular in Retail Marketing?
The use of augmented reality (AR) in retail marketing has grown significantly since the start of COVID-19. With in-person brand-to-consumer communication being so limited because of a decrease in traditional shopping, brands have focused their attention on digital marketing to keep their brand top of mind in the eyes of consumers. One digital tool that has seen great effectiveness is AR. With 88% of mid-sized companies already capitalizing on augmented reality, it is evident that this is a growing trend that is here to stay.
What makes AR advertising such an attractive choice for digital marketers is that it provides a new medium that offers unparalleled brand experiences that promotes engagement and conversion rates like never before. In fact, according to a study made by Neuro-Insight, AR drives 1.9x more visual attention in the brain compared to traditional mediums, such as TV. This increased level of emotional intensity helps brands make a more lasting impression on consumers, which in turn encourages impulsive purchasing. Moreover, memory encoding, which is the key to increasing brand awareness, is 70% higher with AR. This means that consumers will retain the information better and are more likely to recall a brand and its products. At a time when digital consumption has skyrocketed through the roof, with daily online content consumption increasing to six hours and 58 minutes from a little over three hours pre-pandemic, augmented reality, especially try-on Instagram filters, can provide a great ROI compared to traditional ad formats.
Virtual Product Try-Ons with Augmented Reality.
There are numerous ways for brands to incorporate augmented reality into their marketing strategies. The type that has been the most prevalent on social media is the classic AR face filter. One prominent example of this is Taco Bell’s Cinco de Mayo Snapchat Lens, a face filter that turns user’s faces into tacos. Within 24 hours, this engaging AR filter spread like wildfire and brought in more than 224 million views for the brand. However, while these face filters are certainly fun and promote user-generated content (UGC), they are not the most effective at promoting specific products.
This is where virtual product try-ons come in. Research shows that customers aren’t always confident about buying products that they cannot try-on beforehand, such as clothing or sunglasses. Brands in recent years have answered this concern by allowing consumers to virtually try on products using augmented reality—enhancing the purchasing process and making customers feel more comfortable. For instance, for someone wanting to buy sunglasses, virtual sunglasses try-ons provide an effective way for them to try out different colours, styles, and sizes from the comforts of home. Since the onset of the pandemic, the adoption of this technology has also been expedited as consumers all around the world are demanding a safer and more efficient method to try-on products without having to visit a brick-and-mortar store. Currently, brands have three main pathways to accomplish virtual try-ons: WebAR, AR apps, and AR filters.
WebAR refers to AR experiences that are accessed through a web browser rather than an app. The most compelling benefit to WebAR is that it is easily accessible for consumers. On the other hand, for app-based AR, there are inherent barriers to accessibility as consumers have to stop what they’re doing to download an app. Therefore, in a world where content attention spans are so low, WebAR is a great method to quickly capture the attention of users and trigger conversions. However, there are several drawbacks as well. The main issue with web-based AR is that the performance of the AR experience is subject to the processing speed of the browser, rather than the computing power of the device. Therefore, it lacks the level of visuals, animations, and interactivity that AR apps or AR filters possess.
Next up are AR-based apps. While they take advantage of the full computing power of mobile devices, providing smooth and seamless AR experiences, they suffer from the aforementioned accessibility issues as well as hefty price tags. With devices having different specifications and operating systems, compatibility issues and the cost of development are significant drawbacks to AR apps. Additionally, a great deal of time, effort, and money are required to maintain the applications. Therefore, AR apps are often only feasible for large marketers.
The third and final pathway for marketers is AR filters on social media, such as try-on Instagram filters. Although virtual try-on filters employ the same technology as face filters, the objective and execution are drastically different. While marketers are focusing on the virality, entertainment, and user-generated content aspects of AR face filters in order to spread brand awareness, virtual try-on filters are designed specifically with products in mind. Their main purpose is to exhibit different product offerings to potential customers and speed up their purchasing process by allowing them to seamlessly checkout after getting comfortable with the products. We believe that this pathway is the ultimate option for marketers. While they take advantage of the full processing power of mobile devices, providing amazing AR experiences, they are also accessible, given that the user already has Instagram, Facebook, or Snapchat installed. Furthermore, as they exist on social media platforms, they are also by far the most shareable out of the three.
Virtual Sunglasses Try-Ons
Sunglasses are products that have been hit especially hard during COVID-19. Compared to other retail products, these products almost certainly have to be tried on by potential customers since it is extremely difficult to envision how they would look on their faces just based on static 2D images. In addition, physical try-ons pose a significant safety risk as the sunglasses would have to come in contact with shoppers’ faces. These factors make virtual sunglasses try-on filters very popular among brands in the sunglasses industry.
One sunglasses brand that is leveraging augmented reality is French company Bollé. Last summer, they released their try-on Instagram filters. According to Louis Cisti, their VP of Global Marketing, “when it comes to buying premium sunglasses, [consumers] still have high expectations and expect to see tangible benefits. Bollé’s AR try-on bridges that gap and does all the heavy lifting. The retailer can offer an engaging and interactive shopping experience while the consumer gets to see perceivable performance benefits.” Bollé indeed delivered on its promise of exemplifying its products’ many benefits to consumers. Aside from the virtual sunglasses try-on feature, this innovative try-on Instagram filter also allows users to switch to the front-facing camera to see what the world would look like through the lens of their glasses. It effectively demonstrates features such as Bollé’s light adaptive technology, platinum anti-fog treatment, and high contrast adjustment. This filter exemplifies the many AR opportunities that are possible for marketers looking to double down on their digital marketing.
The future of AR virtual try-on filters is very optimistic. Both Instagram and Facebook are shifting their strategies to becoming more of an e-commerce platform in the near future. With upcoming features such as Instagram Checkout and Facebook Pay, where shoppers could seamlessly transition from viewing a product to checking out directly in the apps, these tech giants are currently testing out augmented reality features within this checkout process. For Instagram, these try-on Instagram filters will be ubiquitous: available through shop pages, feed posts, stories, and profiles.
So, brands that have direct applications for this technology would be wise to warm their customers up to using filters as part of their buying process sooner rather than later. It is anticipated that AR features will soon become a ‘must-have’ rather than a ‘nice-to-have’ as they become available and mainstream. Does integrating AR filters into your brand’s marketing campaign seem like the next step? Please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message through our website here. We are super excited to hear about your ideas and work with you to create some engaging, interactive, and effective AR filters for your brand.