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Augmented reality (AR) has been around for a while now, and several marketing campaigns (such as IKEA’s furniture shopping app) have piqued marketers’ interest.

But with the explosive popularity of 2016’s Pokemon Go game, more companies are realizing the potential of the technology to grab customer attention. If AR isn’t in your bag of marketing tricks, it might be worth a look.


First, let’s look at what AR actually is. In case you’re not familiar, AR is a blending of virtual reality technology with the real world. Using an app (often on a smartphone), AR overlays digital elements on the user’s real environment.

In Pokemon Go’s case, players “caught” Pokemon that the game placed in real-world locations. By scanning the location with the camera on their smartphone, a player could find the creature.

IKEA’s brochure is another great example; the company’s app allowed customers to scan a brochure page, then view a piece of furniture as it would look in their own homes.

Why You Should Consider Adding AR

All companies want to create buzz around their brand and/or products. Augmented reality can help provide that – and you don’t necessarily have to invest in your own AR app to do it.

Going back to the Pokemon Go craze, many businesses designated their stores as “Pokestops” – places where gamers could collect specialized items and where more of the virtual creatures would congregate. This was a creative way to tap into an existing trend, without the businesses having to invest in technology of their own.

Of course, you can’t always count on being able to leverage these fads, so you’ll want to consider how your own AR apps could boost your business. Look at your buyer’s journey; are there places along your sales funnel where augmented reality could help your customers envision your product? Could a creative use of AR help boost customer engagement with your brand?

Experience Enhancement vs. Gimmick

The key is to improve the user experience – so avoid adding AR just for the sake of a gimmick. It should add value, helping your customers in some way. Some clunkier uses of AR technology include scanning a brand logo and having an ad display on the user’s phone, or overlaying information like current promotions over stores in the user’s area. These examples have little attraction for customers beyond the novelty factor.

However, if you have a technical or higher-ticket item that customers will want to learn more about before purchasing, AR can help deliver information in a more engaging way than a paper brochure. It can also help customers envision themselves using your products – for example, a cosmetics company could incorporate an AR app that lets users see how different shades of makeup look on their own faces. This adds both fun and real value – a winning combination.

Augmented reality may not be the best option for every product and situation, but creatively incorporating it into your customer’s buying process can help you generate buzz. And thinking carefully about where you incorporate it can help successfully turn a novelty app into an income generator for you.