Is getting customers to interact with an augmented universe or strap on a VR headset really the right move for growing and start-up brands?
Most brands, including those we look after at Fluro, naturally want to be ahead of the curve. That’s what the best brands do. They lead, innovate and (sorry to say it) disrupt. Right now, that often includes wanting to take their customers into an alternative reality, be that virtual or augmented. The aim? To drive sales, promote offers, showcase product benefits, provide a tailored design service. You name it and a business case can be created for it.
But do these approaches really deliver business value? Are AR and VR the right choice for your brand, right now? When it comes to our smaller business clients, the strategy team here at Fluro isn’t entirely convinced.
Before we go any further, what’s the difference?
If you’ve been too scared to ask, you’re not alone: so here goes. VR and AR have lots in common: both are innovative technologies that deliver an altered experience of reality. But they are also fundamentally different technologies.
Virtual Reality uses 360° video or animation to supersede the world as we know it, transporting users into a totally different universe by means of a VR headset or goggles. It’s a totally immersive experience that reimagines everything that we see.
Meanwhile Augmented Reality uses a smart phone to layer a new kind of experience on top of our reality, creating interesting new interactions with the real world rather than replacing it. VR replaces our reality, AR enhances it. In many ways, AR offers more interesting experiential opportunities than VR, from showing customers how products may look on their person or in their homes to signposting offers or experiences out in the world.
If you’re a house-hold brand name with budgets to burn and an awards shelf to keep topped up, building a sales or marketing strategy that includes the significant expense of AR or VR makes sense. Lots of big businesses have successfully launched into the AR or VR space and some of these applications even have real business value.
Snapchat is doing some really interesting things with AR and a service they call Lens Studio, which lets their customers design and build augmented reality lenses for Snapchat. IKEA Place is another a new app which lets customer visualise what furniture might look like in their own homes. Both sensible applications for global mega brands.
But if you’re a smaller business, we believe that the pricing simply isn’t realistic. Doing AR or VR well (and who wants to do it badly?) is unlikely to return business value. Just doing it to create a bit of noise isn’t reason enough.
At Fluro, we believe that there has to be a real need for your brand to make the investment in AR or VR. A genuine, business value generating application for it. Simply slapping your brand on top of virtually augmented world in a me-too fashion doesn’t make good marketing or business sense.
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