Immersive technology offers brands seemingly unlimited potential for connecting with audiences through unique, memorable and highly customized experiences.
Today, by using augmented reality, virtual reality, and 360 video, brands can help buyers make faster decisions by giving them a chance to engage with products in new ways. Organizations can also foster brand loyalty by making online and in-store shopping easier and more enjoyable, or improve the customer experience further by developing employee’s skill sets with AR or VR-assisted training.
What seemed fantastical just a few years ago is now practical, and companies are finding new applications for these innovations every day.
To help ignite your creativity and give you a taste of what’s possible, here are six ways brands are using immersive tech to improve customer experiences:
1. Driving Brand Awareness
Whether you want to introduce a new brand or shed a spotlight on an underutilized service or feature, immersive tech can help make your message more indelible. Here are two brands who did it well:
Hilton Suites Brand
Did you know every single room at Homewood Suites, Embassy Suites and Home2 Suites is a suite? As Hilton Suites Brands discovered, even though it’s in the name, many travelers still didn’t recognize how much space these hotels offer.
Using 360 video, Hilton launched a social campaign that asked users to guess how many objects were in a room. (One suite held backpacks, another pumpkins and, for Thanksgiving, a suite was packed with thousands of plush turkeys, to prove each room’s spaciousness.) Users who guessed correctly could earn a free weekend stay. The campaign earned 7.7 million impressions and 1.88 million video views.
The fact that Pepsi Max soda achieves its delicious taste without any sugar is unbelievable — at least, that’s the message the beverage corporation wanted to communicate.
For its award-winning out-of-home (OOH) campaign, the brand used augmented reality to bring the unbelievable to life through a bus shelter’s display window. The program used depth mapping to project 2D and 3D assets onto a live feed of the street ahead, surprising commuters with asteroids, tigers, laser-shooting robots, and more. The month the creative went live, Pepsi Max sales shot up 35 percent year-over-year.
2. Using Games and Activities to Drive Engagement
There are lots of applications for immersive technology, but entertainment remains a favorite. Here’s one of the most popular examples of how brands can develop unique, interactive ways to play:
If you don’t remember summer 2016, it may be because you spent the majority of the season collecting tiny animated monsters from local streets, parks, and buildings.
Pokémon GO was an instant smash-hit from the moment it landed in app stores on July 6, 2016. The AR-powered mobile game — developed by Niantic, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company — places the media franchise’s beloved characters in the real world so users can “catch” them, train them, and battle other users. In the first 80 days after its launch, the app garnered more than 550 million installs and amassed $470 million in revenue, according to data from NewZoo, an analytics company.
3. Enhancing Online Shopping Experiences
Immersive tech helps overcome one of the most significant drawbacks of e-commerce: customers want to interact with products before making a purchase decision. Here are two brands who are helping shoppers engage more before they buy:
Buying a vehicle is already a complicated decision that requires plenty of research. And buying a car online can be even more of a gamble. But Ford.com recognized its buyers’ concerns and decided to bring the dealership experience online.
Through 360 video-powered vehicle tours (available on mobile and desktop), shoppers can experience the 2019 Expedition and carefully explore nearly every square inch from any seat. They can also click hotspots to get even more details on innovative features. The result? 88 percent of users engaged deeper and the video doubled the likelihood that a user would initiate key shopping research actions.
DIYers know how difficult it is to choose a paint color. A shade that looks perfect in a Pinterest image may not render the same in your space (much to the chagrin of homeowners everywhere.) Sherwin-Williams knows this struggle well, and used immersive tech to devise a solution.
The company’s mobile app AR feature, called Instant Paint, recognizes walls and allows users to “try on” more than 1,500 paint colors from the brand’s inventory. This sophisticated tech even overlays the paint around TVs, shelves, outlets and more for a highly realistic experience.
4. Enhancing In-Store Retail Experiences
Everyone has whipped out their phone to help them make a shopping decision at least once. After all, sometimes you’d rather do a little research on your own than chase down an employee. Now a few brand’s are capitalizing on customers’ phone usage to enhance the shopping experience. Here’s how:
Lowe’s is a pretty massive store with tons of departments and countless products — from tiny screws to hulking garden tractors. While its abundance of merchandise is a key advantage, it can also make navigating the store a little challenging.
Enter Lowe’s Vision: In-store Navigation. This AR-powered feature uses geolocation technology and indoor mapping to overlay turn-by-turn directions and help users find what they need. By using AR for wayfinding, Lowe’s helps connect shoppers with the products they need faster and reduces the friction of the in-store experience.
One of the biggest frustrations of in-store furniture shopping is trying to determine how different pieces will work together within your space. But Macy’s has a solution.
The department store giant developed an in-store VR experience where shoppers can place furniture and decor in a virtual room, which they map out on a tablet. After outfitting the room, customers can don a VR headset and test out their design in a true-to-life experience, walking around various pieces and inspecting how well the setup would work in their space at home. Once they’ve interacted with their design, customers can feel more confident with their purchase decision.
5. Amplifying Live Experiences
Tradeshows and conferences are chock-full of brands jockeying for attendees’ attention, and creating a memorable experience among the craziness can be a challenge. However, leveraging immersive technology can help ensure people remember their engagement with your brand.
Sneaker-lovers will go to great lengths to snatch up the latest specialty pair, and limited-edition Adidas products sell out online fast. And releasing a limited-run product at a massive convention could lead to a stampede.
To prevent mayhem and engage sneakerheads in a fun new way, Adidas let ComplexCon attendees buy highly sought-after products on the spot, via an AR-powered app developed specifically for the event.
Users used their smartphone cameras to activate pick-up spot signs and then followed instructions to choose their pair. Afterward, they’d find their way to a designated locker to pick up their new pair. Not only was the process fast and easy, but it also created a buzz and captivated the event’s highly tech-savvy attendees.
From onboarding new hires to helping existing team members build their skill sets, training is a critical investment for every organization. But when situations can’t be easily replicated, or when hands-on opportunities aren’t available, immersive technology can close the gap and ensure employees are prepared. Here’s how two brands are using immersive tech for training:
Educating sales teams on new products can be costly and complicated, especially when those employees are scattered across the country or around the world. But SIMI Winery found a solution.
The SIMI Way is a custom 180-degree video and VR training tool designed for Oculus Go that allows users to visit a replica of the winery’s original 1930’s tasting room, view artifacts to learn about the company’s past, and tour the barrel room. Then, employees can walk inside a virtual grocery store where they’ll learn how to stock wine shelves and set up a SIMI wine tasting table.
Technicians who install aircraft electrical wiring can’t afford to make mistakes. But reviewing a 2D diagram isn’t the most effective way to learn this complicated skill. That’s why Boeing invested in an immersive tech solution.
Using the company’s hands-free AR training program, technicians can view full-depth renderings to better understand aircraft wiring. According to theory studies, technicians who used the AR training showed a 90 percent improvement in quality during their first time, and a 30 percent reduction in time spent doing a single job.
Leveraging Immersive Tech
Immersive technology is no longer a far-fetched or fantastical concept. Today, it’s helping power some of the most memorable customer experiences and providing brands an opportunity to set themselves apart in an increasingly crowded marketplace. By implementing augmented reality, virtual reality and 360 video into your marketing campaigns, e-commerce efforts, in-store shopping experiences, and employee training exercises, you can help cultivate brand loyalty, improve employee knowledge, and prepare for an even more tech-driven future.