We all know augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technology is pretty cool. However, while AR/VR is fun, it can also be a very useful tool for brands. This past year we’ve seen many brands start to use AR in creative ways to try and mimic the in-person experiences we were missing. It has been used for events, to make shopping easier, or simply just to make life a little more fun.
Pinterest recently updated its mobile app to include an AR try-on feature for multiple makeup brands. With this update, pinners can virtually try on a variety of eyeshadow colors from brands including Lancome, YSL, Urban Decay, and NYX Cosmetics. So, now when you are looking at eyeshadows on Pinterest, you can use the AR feature to “try on” the eye shadow without even having to leave the app. You can even then immediately buy the eyeshadow on Pinterest. Since in-person samples have become a thing of the past, being able to try on makeup products virtually is a game-changer for consumers.
Pinterest isn’t the only social channel to adopt AR and VR technology. Snapchat has been doing it for a long time with the variety of filters they offer, and Instagram is beginning to hop on board too. While AR/VR might have started off as a fun toy to use, it is clear now that it is not just a passing trend. In fact, eMarketer predicts that the number of AR social users will increase by 7.2 percent in the coming year.
Similar to Pinterest, Ulta has also made it easier for consumers to try on makeup from afar with AR. A year ago when everything began to shut down due to COVID-19, Ulta had to close all of their retail stores. But all hope was not lost for Ulta’s customers’ thanks to their GlamLab. The GlamLab is a virtual try-on experience where consumers can put makeup on to a variety of different faces to see how products look on their skin. And the great thing about this technology is that it’s not just used to reach consumers while they are at home, but also comes in handy for those shopping in the store. Doing a virtual try-on is a much safer way to test makeup rather than using in-store samples that multiple people are touching. Last year Ulta saw five times more shade matches in the GlamLab and saw in-store app activations increase as well. Technology that used to be a “nice to have” has now become an integral part of Ulta’s digital sales strategy.
Pizza Hut launched their latest “Newstalgia” campaign bringing the pizza brand back in time with some of the brand’s most iconic elements. However, they’re also bringing the campaign to life in the future with the help of technology like AR and QR codes. Pizza Hut will be delivering their pizzas in limited edition boxes that have a sketch of a Pac Man game on the top, along with a QR code for customers to scan. When customers scan the QR code, they will be able to play an AR version of the game Pac Man, and if they do well, they can share their scores on Twitter and be entered to win a custom Pac Man game cabinet. The goal of this campaign is to give back the “dine-in” experience to customers. Since they can’t go eat at a Pizza Hut and play games, Pizza Hut is using technology to bring the games to them.
Augmented and virtual reality can serve a variety of purposes. From bringing products to life, making purchasing decisions easier, and as a fun way to connect with customers that you can’t see face to face. While a couple of years ago marketers might have thought AR and VR were just a cool new toy or a passing trend, this year has proven that they are here to stay.