It has shaped the way we filter our Instagram Stories, the way we travel in our vehicles, and even the way we shop.
While augmented reality filters are not as sophisticated as virtual reality (VR) systems like the Oculus Quest, they do have one huge advantage in its breakout to the mass market.
Unless you’re at a computer, you’re probably holding it right now.
What is Augmented Reality (AR) “Try-On” Technology?
Virtual try-on functionalities became popular on smartphones as Instagram and Snapchat rolled out real-time image filters, which allowed users to see themselves distorted by things like new makeup or whacky hairstyles.
While fascinating and largely seen as somewhat of a joke early on, filters started to become interwoven into the fabric of users’ own image. More filters appeared, like “Starburst” and “Glow Up,” and users began defaulting to image filters even in common scenarios.
That, combined with the constant availability of smartphones, has paved the way for mass acceptance of augmented reality.
As the technology advanced and became more available, other companies began experimenting with the try-on functionalities to promote their products.
Thanks to our mainstream apps, AR technology became second nature to consumers who are now ready to jump at the chance to test their favorite brands’ new products virtually.
You can find this technology in companies like Amazon, Instagram, IKEA, and, more recently, Pinterest.
Why Does Pinterest Use It?
Pinterest’s core competency is promotion of ideas through Pins. Since their demographic is largely millennial women, beauty brands flock to the app like moths to a flame.
The existing AR technology launched originally in early 2020 and enabled users to “try on” lipstick and eyeshadow within the Pins themselves. There was also an option to buy products as they exited the filter.
Now, that technology is being rolled out to the Home Décor sector inside of Pinterest. The category has rolled out over 80,000 shoppable Pins, surpassing the existing number of beauty Pins (14,000) by more than 5x.
With this technology, you can point your phone camera to a section of your home and the AR technology will feed an image of the product into that exact spot in the house.
That means you could see exactly how a new couch would look in a certain place in your home before you even buy. Almost overnight, the world of interior designers is changed forever!
Pinterest reports that nine out of every ten Pinners use Pinterest for Home Décor research & inspiration and are 5x more likely to purchase from try on-enabled Pins than standard Pins.
This augmented reality technology is critical to Pinterest’s ambitions in the social commerce world, and Home Décor retailers are only too eager to join them on the app.
Why Do Companies/Sellers Use It?
Companies like Wayfair, Crate & Barrel, CB2, Walmart, and West Elm have already set up AR try-on Pins and have embraced this nonlinear approach to consumer sales habits.
This type of try-on approach would drastically decrease refunds and would enable a seamless experience between in-store and online habits.
Customers can check things like couch fabric designs against their wall paint or carpet colors against their hardwood floor just by pointing their phone camera at an empty space in their house.
If consumers are perfectly satisfied buying via AR technology, companies are only too happy to reduce store hours and save on retail associate salaries.
Reducing foot traffic overall cuts companies’ costs, creating more efficiency through online-only transactions, and enabling data collection across bigger and bigger sample sizes.
What is Empower’s Reaction?
Empower’s goal has always been and continues to be to meet the customer where they are with the right message, at the right time.
This technology is the next step toward the transition from historically brick & mortar brands into part-time Direct-to-Consumer retailers.
Stores that adopted this technology during the partial shutdowns in 2020 and 2021 floated to the surface, while traditional in-person shopping was put on hold.
It also forecasts a required ongoing presence in the “Metaverse.”
The parallel dimension of Augmented Reality has become entirely commonplace, meaning that Empower and its clients must work to establish presence in that dimension.
Next, we need to monitor consumer behaviors inside of these AR technologies. Which AR technology is most user-friendly? Are consumers more or less brand-loyal in these spaces? Are consumers happy with their physical purchase after the “try-on” period led to a sale?
These are questions that all companies face in 2022 and, as strong advertisers, we must be ready to answer these questions with powerful data and valuable solutions.