Of all the futuristic technology that has made the leap from sci-fi film screen to reality, our team of nerds and gamers find augmented reality arguably the most exciting. Augmented reality (AR) refers to technologies which superimpose digital data, images, and sounds onto our physical world, either through your smartphone screen or by using a hands-free device like a headset.

Back in 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that in the future a “significant part of the population of developed countries, and eventually all countries, will have AR experiences every day”. Since then, we have mostly seen AR utilised in the entertainment sector, with apps like Pokémon Go and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite offering the unique novelty of seeing monsters and magic overlaid onto the familiar surroundings of our homes and local hangouts.

But the potential of using AR to create immersive customer experiences is slowly being realised. You only have to look at Facebook’s recent rebrand to Meta, a reference to the ‘metaverse’ which includes both AR and VR technology, and the current race between tech giants to create AR-enabled smart glasses, to see the importance of augmented reality to the future digital landscape.

With the global AR market projected to reach US $97.76 billion by 2028, now is the time to consider the creative potential of augmented reality for your business. Here are three companies that have already successfully used AR to enhance their marketing strategy:

PEPSI MAX

In 2014, Pepsi Max paired with UK production company Grand Visual to create an augmented reality experience using the window of a bus shelter in London. The experience used 2D and 3D assets composited onto a live feed of Oxford Street. Commuters believed that they were looking through a normal window, until they saw the giant robot shooting lasers from its eyes, creepy tentacle emerging from a manhole cover, incoming asteroid or prowling life-sized tiger! This brilliant use of AR was captured in a social campaign which went viral with over 8 million views on YouTube, and sales of Pepsi Max increased by 35% during the month that the campaign was live. Check out this unbelievable interactive AR campaign here.

IKEA

In 2017, Swedish homewares company IKEA released its interactive app IKEA Place in conjunction with Apple’s ARKit, which allows users to virtually ‘place’ pieces from their online catalogue into any room. Each image is rendered as a three-dimensional object and scales automatically to fit the space that the user has photographed. This allows potential customers to check the size, design, and functionality of any furniture or homewares piece against their existing styling or the dimensions of a particular room. IKEA Place is a striking example of how augmented reality can personalise the customer experience and reach younger generations of buyers, with 31.3 million downloads recorded in 2021.

SEPHORA

Also in 2017, beauty brand Sephora teamed up with augmented reality technology creators Modiface to create Virtual Artist, a makeup app which uses facial recognition to allow customers to try their products anywhere. The app scans your face and detects your eyes, cheeks, and lips to accurately place the products, before allowing customers access to a wide range of products to ‘apply’ from eyeshadows and lip colours to false lashes. Virtual Artist also provides customised makeup tutorials, outfit matching, and colour swatch comparison, blending a customised shopper experience with social sharing capability.  With over 1 million downloads recorded on Android in 2022, Virtual Artist may be only the beginning of the development of AR beauty tools.

Augmented reality is only one of the new marketing trends set to dominate the marketplace in 2022. Get ahead of the curve and discover which technologies you could leverage for success in our new post, and make sure to subscribe to our blog for weekly updates on everything design related!

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