3D and AR Take the Stage
The integration of immersive media like 3D & AR into the consumer buying journey is establishing an entirely new standard for omni-channel retail and brand experiences. The reasons for this are twofold. For one, it is easier than ever for retailers to incorporate 3D & AR into their marketing and sales strategies across platforms and the web. Apple’s AR Quick Look along with advancements in web-based AR have made augmented commerce more readily available. Additionally, augmented commerce is more effective than traditional storytelling methods, which leads to a better shopping experience – one based on interactivity. This interactivity increases the likelihood that a consumer will make a purchase. And when it comes to delivering interactivity online, 3D & AR are king.
Fundamentally, the promise of interactivity is consumer confidence – the type of confidence that clears the way for a consumer to feel a stronger emotional connection with a brand. Traditional storytelling methods, in this case, product photos and videos, while useful, convey a secondhand message. Conversely, 3D & AR shopping experiences put consumers in the driver’s seat, sometimes even literally, leading to first-hand product interactions that are similar to in-store shopping experiences. While $453B was spent on online retail sales last year, a whopping $3,456B was spent in-store. In-store shopping experiences are simply more informative, more engaging, and more fun. But by integrating augmented commerce, retailers now have the ability to close the gap between in-store and online sales.
Augmented Commerce FTW
So what do we mean by augmented commerce? Let’s say a consumer is shopping for a new espresso machine online. She discovers one she likes and browses through photos of the machine from various angles in various colors and in various model rooms. She is imagining the espresso machine on her kitchen counter next to other items on display. This is a standard 2D online shopping experience today. On the other hand, with the implementation of augmented commerce, there is the option to view a 3D model of the espresso machine on the product page. Our protagonist can explore it first-hand – rotating, scaling, changing the color and/or texture. What does the machine look like up close? How does it work? Are the buttons on the front or side or back? Furthermore, she can place the machine in her own environment via AR at exact size and scale to ensure it fits in the space between the counter and the cabinets.
She is finally in control - examining the product from every angle, able to see it in her home without relying on her ability to picture it in her head. The consideration phase of the purchase journey is suddenly maximized to include a deeper understanding of the product and a simulation of ownership, all in a fraction of the time. Another example of this is the difference between watching versus playing a game. Feelings and ultimately confidence are significantly stronger when you are the player. But there’s more.
Persuasion... If You Will
According to Aristotle, persuasion is made up of 3 parts - logos, ethos, and pathos. Logos is the logical appeal, the proof that something is true. Ethos is an appeal to the authority of the presenter - the brand’s reputation as a whole. Finally, and perhaps most important, is pathos, the emotional appeal. In today’s fast-paced world where brands often have seconds to make an impression, pathos is paramount. Brands of course, have been aware of this for ages. This is why storytelling is more valuable than logic when conveying the value behind a brand or a product. This is why copywriters kick off campaigns that speak to “dreaming big” as opposed to campaigns focused on the details of the actual product. But what if storytelling was no longer the most effective way to access pathos?
For ages, storytelling has been used in subliminal messaging to motivate people to act in a specific way, such as making a purchase. Inherently people are motivated by the anticipation of ‘feeling good’. When you associate ‘feeling good’ with a brand, your positive affinity toward that brand may increase. This is why brands work hard to create positive associations at a high-level. Consider the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Thanksgiving traditions promote family and togetherness, which leads to feelings of love, warmth, belonging, and happiness, and by association, so does Macy’s. Rather than thinking about Macy’s as just a department store we now have an emotional connection to it – Macy’s means family. The stronger these feelings are, the higher the chance your brain will create a lasting positive association to that brand. But the path to purchase requires more than a positive association.
Interpret vs Intuit
In order to be effective, storytelling relies on a user’s ability to interpret a narrative. This includes understanding other’s goals, creating mental imagery, and feeling empathy. Keeping someone’s attention long enough to get to the empathy part can be difficult as many people are not willing to invest the time and cognitive energy (interpreting, understanding, creating) required. 3D & AR, however, do not make these demands. The user does not need to interpret a characters' feelings because the user is the character. Because the goal now belongs to the user, feelings are no longer vicarious, meaning the need for empathy is out. Everything is felt intuitively. Furthermore, emotions run higher because the user is in control, leading to an increased level of confidence.
In short, interactive experiences allow a user to create her own narrative instead of interpreting someone else's, in this case scaling and placing a coffeemaker in her space rather than imagining it. The experience is direct and intuitive and interactive. Of course, there are other ways to increase consumer confidence online. Easy and free returns are a great example. But to create confidence on the product level, consumers need to better understand the product and feel connected to it via interactivity. For that, you won’t find a better route than augmented commerce.
For more on 3D & AR, stay tuned. It’s our business, after all.