Foresight 20: Digital worlds in physical spaces + the growth of mobile AR
A bi-weekly newsletter diving into the concepts, people and brands shaping the future of retail, entertainment and connectivity.
Welcome back to Foresight!
This week is (almost) all about AR. As mobile AR grows exponentially, brands are increasingly finding ways to meet consumers in physical spaces helping to bridge the gap with virtual worlds and experiences. The more relevant and timely these moments are for consumers, the more meaningful these brand interactions become. More below on retailers who are experimenting in the space and how to make the most of mobile AR moments.
On another note, I’m sure you’ve seen or heard about Metaverse Fashion Week which took place a few weeks ago. Google it and you’ll find hundreds of articles outlining the event, as well as the hits and misses. Two pieces I enjoyed the most were from Vogue Business and Wunderman Thompson Intelligence if you’re interested in learning more. Happy reading!
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IDEAS, INSIGHTS & FORWARD-THINKING PERSPECTIVES
How retailers are introducing digital worlds into physical spaces
With the digital realm representing an extension of our physical lives, retailers are testing the limits when it comes to reimagining the in-store shopping experience by adding a digital layer to physical shopping. Earlier this year, Nike brought the Nikeland Roblox experience to its NYC flagship store transforming the first floor into an augmented reality version of Nikeland. In-store shoppers were encouraged to use Snapchat Lenses to dress their personal 3D avatars in Nike gear and play Nike branded AR-enabled games including the “Floor is Lava”. Another retailer adding an interactive layer to the traditional storefront format is Savage X Fenty. At the brands’ Las Vegas shop, visitors can visualize themselves as avatars using AR body scans to get personalized product recommendations based on their body size and shape. The Fit:Match technology allows customers to “shop on their own terms and move seamlessly between a uniquely Savage immersive retail experience and the convenient online interaction they already love,” Savage X Fenty co-presidents Natalie Guzman and Christiane Pendarvis said.
Retailer Fred Segal has a different approach to bridging the gap between digital and physical. In December 2021 the brand introduced Arcade, its first liminal shopping experience. Digital skins, crypto art and NFTs are displayed alongside physical items and can be purchased using cryptocurrency. There is also monthly programming including NFT exhibitions, AR trunk shoes, esports and live performances with the intention to educate and engage shoppers. Breaking down the barriers between real and virtual worlds can be seen as another form of omnichannel business, one that acknowledges new technologies and tools to create new experiences. The opportunities for layering digital content onto the physical world are endless across any industry you can think of, making this a big opportunity for brands to attract creative talent and reinvent in-store consumer engagement.
How mobile AR is growing more relevant to users and brands
We’ve come a long way from when Snapchat first introduced never-before-send 3D filters and lenses, allowing users to bring AR into their everyday life to have fun and express themselves in new ways. With an estimated market value of $50 billion by 2024, AR has been and continues to enter a new growth phase. Advancements in 5G enable users to skip downloading apps and accessing AR content directly on smartphone cameras—similar to how we no longer have to download shows or movies because we now have streaming. Moving beyond fun lenses to offering real-life utility, we’re looking at the ways mobile AR will become more relevant to brands and individuals.
Relevance + Timeliness
A key element of making AR effective and leaving a lasting impression in people’s lives is making the experience more relevant and timelier. As an example, AR could allow a player from your favourite sports team to stand in your living room during the game, tying the activation to a merch promotion making shopping quick and easy for fans.
By delivering experiences to consumers at the right place and time, they instantly become more memorable. Even more critical than this is it may encourage them to share these experiences with friends and family in what’s called “friend to friend” impressions—even more genuine and impactful than paid ad placement.
Try Before You Buy
Offering free trials isn’t a new marketing tactic but it’s proven again and again that it works. Whether you want to see how a couch looks in your living room or how a dress fits your body before purchasing, this is the updated version of how consumers can test-drive products and how brands can generate engagement AR while driving traffic and transactions.
The value and success of AR so far has consisted of giving users experiences that go beyond their everyday and the future is reliant on how these moments can be interwoven with users’ daily lives. For the brands that can integrate these impactful experiences into consumers’ daily routines while making them more relevant, useful and timely, the more successful they will be.