Marketing 2 min read

AR Adoption Among Retailers Increases Due to Pandemic

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Before now, advertisers used to treat augmented reality as a shiny new object in the media plan. While the tech was attention-grabbing and innovative enough, it was rarely considered a business-driver.

However, that mindset is slowly changing. Now, brands are considering the different ways that AR can provide more utility.

According to a recent study, 8 percent of U.S. retailers planned to increase marketing investment in AR and VR for their digital store. That was back in January. In June 2020, the number jumped to 21 percent.

So, what’s responsible for this surge in AR adoption? A March 2020 Nielsen article suggested that the coronavirus pandemic is the “unexpected catalyst.”

In a statement, vice president of trade marketing for sunglasses, goggles, and helmet manufacturer Bollé Brand, Chris Abbruzzese said:

“As soon as COVID-19 happened, people didn’t want to go into malls and sunglass stores to try on glasses.”

Here’s why.

How the COVID-19 Pandemic Increased AR Adoption Among Retailers

Some sellers were already using in-store augmented reality — such as virtual try-on mirrors — before the pandemic.

What’s more, consumers were also embracing the technology. According to Nielsen, more than 50 percent of global consumers are willing to use AR and VR technology to assess the product.

However, AR adoption among brands did not increase further until stores began shutting down or operating at reduced capacity.

Abbruzzese explained:

“Who wants to touch something that was on somebody’s face? I’m not supposed to touch my own face, let alone wear glasses that touched someone else’s face.”

So, the company re-evaluated its mobile-based virtual try-on and introduced a new AR feature on Instagram.

That way, users can see what the sunglasses look like on them. They’ll also be able to experience their environment through the polarized lenses of the virtual glasses.

Marketers think AR is “only going to be good when there are wearables,” said Joe Williams, immersive lead at publisher LadBible Group.

“Everyone’s always looking around the corner rather than embracing the here and now of what people are doing, which is missing the point completely.”

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Sumbo Bello is a creative writer who enjoys creating data-driven content for news sites. In his spare time, he plays basketball and listens to Coldplay.

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