The tech industry loves to speculate about the potential uses and capabilities of developing technologies. Will we have computer chips in contact lenses that pop up Yelp reviews whenever you look at a building? Will all cars have HUDs that project your GPS directions onto the road in front of you? Will Pokémon roam the grasslands? That’s all very exciting, but right now you can put augmented reality (AR) technology to work leveraging your existing print to create magical experiences for your customers.
As you probably know, customers are more likely to purchase a product once they’ve picked it up off the shelf. The trick is actually getting them to pay attention to your product over the one next to it. Augmented reality provides a great hook: it can deliver compelling content like exclusive videos, gamified interactive experiences, and helpful product visualizations all tied to the packaging itself.
Check out these boxes from General Mills seasonal Halloween Monster cereals. Count Chocula, Boo Berry, and FrankenBerry announce, “We’re Alive!” creating an unmissable call to action across the front of the box. Viewed through the Blippar app, the characters come to life, speak, and move. The back of the boxes feature games and extra content that kids can play with at home. It’s a one-two-punch with a strong call-to-action to get you to pick the product up, and additional value when you bring it home.
Brochures & Catalogs
Printed sales material can only show so much. AR lets the customer dive deeper. For the last few years Ikea has been augmenting their catalog to allow customers to see furniture in their own home, browse related design inspiration, choose additional options, and order online. This is a perfect example of leveraging an existing print resource that they were already spending the money to create, and adding an additional layer of information and customer engagement.
Looking ahead, there are many potential uses for this tech that take advantage of existing print media to create new value for customers. From to-go menus with photos, availability, and nutritional info of all of the food, to real estate flyers that connect to a virtual tour and real time price and availability updates.
Let’s say you own a theme park or resort. You already print tons of paper collateral: maps, brochures, etc. Imagine your flagship roller coaster popping out of the map in three dimensions. Imagine a ski map that updates with current snow conditions. Imagine a photograph that transforms into an immersive first-person video experience of your steepest runs and most exciting rides. You’ve already got brochures, you have exciting content on your website, AR can connect the two to give your guests a memorable experience before they’ve even set foot in your park.
To compete with e-commerce, retailers need to give customers a compelling reason to come to the store.
American Apparel has an incredibly customer friendly app that turns their in-store signage into a portal to the full range of color and fabric options, a video of the garment in action, customer reviews and notes on fit, and the ability to share a selection with friends.
They’ve taken the problem of keeping every color and size in stock, and turned it into an opportunity to deepen their conversation with the customer.
Another great in-store experience is the LEGO Digital Box Kiosk. Instead of a downloadable app on the shopper’s smartphone, Lego installed kiosks in all of their stores. Shoppers hold a lego box in front of the kiosk’s camera and see, in real time, a model of the assembled kit come to life, complete with working drawbridges, dragons, and minifigs running around. This dedicated hardware solution can be even better than relying on the user’s smartphone. There’s no app to install and not much room for user or device error. They just walk up to the kiosk and it works every time.
And remember what we said about picking up the package?
Print advertisements in magazines are another exciting opportunity for your existing print media to do double duty with AR.
Maybelline gained valuable insight into their customers when they ran an ad that let readers virtually try-on different colors of nail polish. Not only did the ad create a memorable, multi-sensory experience for customers, by looking at which colors users tried on the most, Maybelline was able to predict the popularity of different shades and stock local stores accordingly, leading to a measurable boost in sales.
How about this ad from Norwegian footwear company, Viking. The printed ad itself is eye catching, yet simple. It almost begs the customer to complete the image. What does the boot look like? Viewed through a smartphone the ad shows a realistic 3D model of the boot that can be seen from any angle, much better than a photograph. Ads can be augmented to show 360* product views, link to order pages, show a full range of style options. The possibilities are endless.
There’s one more great thing about AR, not only does it provide your customer with a great experience, it also reports back to you with all kinds of useful metrics. Just like visits to a website, AR views are trackable: they can report on unique users, repeat visitors, average engagement time, social shares, even which part of the packaging the customer is looking at the longest. This kind of data can help evaluate the effectiveness of a campaign, and in some cases, as with the Maybelline ad, directly affect sales decisions.
This may seem like science fiction but these tools are available now, your brand could be putting your print media to work delivering valuable and magical experiences to your customers.