Snapchat and Publicis Media partnered to identify how branded AR — or AR that promotes a product, service, or brand — might influence how consumers shop and engage with brands in 2021. Together, we commissioned the market research consultancy, Alter Agents, to conduct a three-part research study in Saudi Arabia. As a preliminary phase, Alter Agents conducted in-depth interviews with AR experts about the barriers to and opportunities for AR as a part of the consumer shopping journey, as well as visionary insights to the future potential of AR. They followed the interviews with mobile ethnographies over the course of nine days for those who have previously used AR for shopping. To validate these contextual learnings, a quantitative survey was conducted among 1,000 people ages 13–49 who were smartphone owners and AR non-rejectors.
AR usage is commonplace, with low self-stated usage
When asked if they had used AR, one third of people aged 13-49 claimed to have used AR in the past and only 12% claim to have used branded AR. However, the research reveals that the definition of AR varies a lot from a consumer perspective which may result in low stated usage.
Indeed, a research led by Deloitte shows that in 2021, 7.8M of the Gen Z and Millennial population are frequent AR users and that by 2025 almost all of them will be frequent AR users in Saudi Arabia.
So, AR adoption is thriving in Saudi and while the global pandemic may have contributed to accelerated branded AR adoption, this behavior is here to stay — almost 9 out of 10 consumers believe AR technology will play a role in how people shop in the next five years. In fact, 78% claim they will increase their use of AR post-pandemic.
Developing a camera strategy now is critical to long-term brand success
More than two third of consumers actively search for AR experiences — a high number for nascent technology. The most common way for people to seek out branded AR is through searching within the camera on digital platforms like Snapchat. This built-in behavior creates an opportunity for brands to increase their chances of being discovered by owning their category’s share-of-voice within the camera. And because the camera is the gateway to these branded experiences, developing a camera strategy now is critical to long-term brand success.
Start with Gen Z and Millennials, but don’t stop there
Gen Z and Millennials might have higher usage today, however, Gen X consumers also have a strong affinity for branded AR experiences. Developing assets that are meant to be engaged with across generations, therefore, can expand the revenue opportunity associated with this technology.
Branded AR brings multiple high-impact consumer touchpoints
More than eight in ten consumers who say they would use branded AR for shopping also agree they are likely to purchase after a branded AR experience. These numbers increase when talking about specific branded experiences, such as virtual try-on or product personalization at 84%.
Branded AR experiences can positively impact the shopper journey and influence consumers during distinct moments — from inspiration to purchase to post-purchase — providing multiple high-impact touchpoints for brands. These learnings underscore the value of AR in every marketing campaign, no matter the objective.
Shareability heightens the impact
Consumers want to show and share AR experiences with their friends and family, including branded ones. Brands can seize on these behaviors and increase discoverability by promoting and advertising unique AR experiences. And because shareability and sociability were found to heighten AR’s impact, brands should create AR experiences with the intent of them being shared.
Key takeaways for marketers
In addition to supporting business awareness goals, branded AR also supports deep funnel KPIs in a significant way. It's a powerful tool in your marketing kit that drives consumer behavior throughout the entire purchase decision-making process. Consumers seek AR while shopping and are delighted to discover these experiences that help inform their purchase. Brands should consider the type of branded AR to use based on their marketing objectives and where their target audience is within the consumer journey. AR experiences should be designed with all ages in mind and should facilitate sharing. Now let’s get to creating!