written by: Chau Tsz Yan

2016 is a year full of surprises and innovations. One of the most noteworthy ones is the Pokémon Go craze, due to the game’s brilliant use of AR that merges reality with the virtual gaming fantasy world.

AR is not completely a new technology per se, it is developed in the 1970s, and has been widely applied for marketing purposes since 1998 [1]. The technology integrates digital information with the user’s environment in real time. Its different from virtual reality, which creates a completely artificial environment, AR brings a sense of immersion.

AR has been frequently used in marketing promotions. IKEA launched an AR catalogue [2], allowing potential customers to visualize which pieces of furniture suit their home best. Cosmetics market also made attempts in implementing this technology. Shiseido took introduces an AR makeup mirror [3], offering customers the experience of putting on makeup on the “virtual faces” appearing onscreen.

AR has key strategic implications in at least three key areas: potential for wide application, customers’ engagement, and innovative collaboration. First, AR can be applied in wide array of industries and products including gaming, fashion and accessories, furniture, restaurant, real estates (the list could go on). Its extensive application stimulates both interests and demand and serves well as booster for sales and revenue. Second, it increases customers’ engagement by enabling them to have a more realistic experience. This interactive element brings customers immersion and excitement. Third, there is a lot of room for pioneering collaboration with other innovations. Take Pokémon Go as an example. The game’s success can be attributed to the smart use of AR on a popular cartoon character that puts players into an alter-ego as a Pokémon trainer.

There could be much other anticipation about technology relevant marketing promotion trends in future, such as denser content, more live-videos and better quality graphics. Customers’ attention span is getting shorter and shorter. A lot of people is only skimming through the headlines or the first few sentences of messages, news or articles. Visually rich videos and graphics content with less text are preferred as they are easy to understand and works better to fascinate customers. The marketing promotion environment is getting more crowded than ever, AR is adding a bit of excitement and adventure through interaction, thus helps to create non-replaceable customer experience that may last.

[1] http://www.arlab.com/blog/the-evolution-of-augmented-reality/
[2] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/lifestyle/interiors/10247596/Ikeas-3D-furniture-app-first-look.html
[3] http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1370892/Shiseidos-magic-make-mirror-try-dozens-looks.html.