Many brands are beginning to understand the definition and impact of augmented reality. But there are few insights into the AR consumer, and even fewer insights into the messaging and communication of how and why AR should be used to that consumer. Therefore brands who may have already developed an AR tool, or are in the process of developing one, need to know how they can message and communicate their solution, because AR is likely to be a game-changer for a variety of products and services.

Studying consumer perceptions

To shed some light on the topic, we recently conducted a study using an online exploratory research group — similar to a focus group — with two groups of 20 individuals of varying awareness pertaining to augmented reality. Objectives included:

  • Exploring perceptions when it comes to augmented reality and its definition, relevance, and impact
  • Uncovering use cases for augmented reality currently in the market and those that have the potential to be developed

The insights from this study sought to identify consumer perceptions and use cases for AR to help brands understand how to talk about and communicate an AR solution. The results showed it may be less important for consumers to actually understand AR in order for them to comprehend its potential use. For example, most consumers find that AR can be used for several different purposes:

  1. Product trials or experiences
  2. To help people by saving time or by improving a process
  3. To entertain and make an experience or process more fun

Most example use cases for AR, provided by respondents, include those pertaining to gaming, entertainment, and social media. However, a more practical application is seen with specific brands associated with tech, home improvement, and retail; consumers are more open to trying out these kinds of AR solutions.

Recommendations

Based on these insights, there are a few potential recommendations brands can consider when looking to position an AR solution. Most existing tools for AR are focused on entertaining people, but those that serve a practical purpose may have a competitive advantage and brands should highlight that advantage in communications. Further, brands should show what needs their AR tool solves by providing the questions it can answer — especially when it comes to advertising the tool online.

The research also explains consumers still have specific questions and concerns when it comes to AR such as the needs it solves, how it applies to their daily lives, and the privacy and security considerations.

Consumers want to quickly and easily understand how an AR solution works since it can be confusing to begin with. Use a name for the app or technology that also alludes to how it works, and develop app store or advertising content that incorporates video tutorials or examples of the product in action — consumers validate that these tactics are likely to trigger a trial use.

Further, as reported by Statista, only 17 percent of U.S. internet users feel their personal information is secure online — so it’s not surprising that using AR sparks the same concern. Consumers still have specific questions and concerns when it comes to AR and the privacy and security considerations. These concerns are always a barrier when it comes to connected technology. As a result, be sure to provide an easy to read and digestible product description that also highlights any privacy or security concerns.

Where AR is working

It’s not all about business though. Consumers shouldn’t scare away from the adoption of AR by companies because it’s meant to make their lives easier too. Keep in mind, the term “augmented” in itself means to add or enhance. As a result, consumers can expect to get an enhanced experience when it comes to a variety of things like shopping, traveling, entertainment, and more.

The industries where AR is currently having the largest impact are gaming, entertainment, and retail. But the potential of it will soon begin to reach new verticals. Why? The ability for AR to be significantly more engaging than any other technology by creating a multi-sensory experience can help brands develop a deeper relationship with consumers. And the possibilities of AR are seemingly limitless. As developers get pretty creative with AR solutions, they can provide brands with an immeasurable value that is likely to result in

  • An easier way for brands to control and improve their brand experience
  • Increased brand engagement and an improvement in customer retention
  • A new source for understanding consumers

AR will help take the guesswork of buying new products or trying out new things since it allows consumers to trial them before committing to it. Many brands will also look to develop AR tools that are meant to help others, particularly when it comes to education and training—we’ve already seen this take place through the use of virtual reality in healthcare and other industries.

Ultimately, any brand can try to incorporate an augmented reality aspect into their marketing or product strategy. However, being thoughtful about how they position it in the minds of consumers can help elevate their AR solution and appeal to more consumers.

Brooke Patton is a researcher and content specialist at GutCheck, a global agile market research provider. She often conducts studies specific to technology in the AR, smart home, and consumer electronics space.