There is a lot of talk about augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
Understanding the concepts can be confusing as the terms are used interchangeably, but each has its own unique set of characteristics and applications.
In this post, we’ll break down the differences between augmented and virtual reality, their unique marketing applications, and how consumers feel about them.
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What is Augmented Reality (AR)?
Augmented reality (AR) layers virtual elements on top of a real-world scene, allowing users to be present in a location where they are physically present but benefit from the augmented elements in their experience.
Pokémon Go is one of the most popular and notable examples of AR, where Pokémon characters are superimposed in a real-life setting, such as someone’s backyard or outside their favorite restaurant.
What is virtual reality (VR)?
virtual reality (VR) is any software that immerses users in a three-dimensional interactive virtual environment, typically using VR sensory equipment that brings real-world actions into the virtual world. Many VR experiences are 360 degree.
It is a computer-generated simulation, and each virtual reality world allows people to fully participate in the unique world.
What is the difference between AR and VR?
The most notable and important difference between AR and VR is that AR adds things to one’s existing world, and VR immerses one into a new world. A VR world is a new reality, and an AR is a complement to an existing reality.
Furthermore, many VR experiences require a headset or sensory devices to work, while AR does not. It is also commonly said that AR is 75% reality and 25% virtual, and VR is 25% reality and 75% virtual.
They are similar in offering users immersive, completely new worlds in VR, and 3D and virtual content.
Use cases for AR and VR
Marketing applications for AR and VR can be different, so let’s discuss a few examples.
For one, AR is a high quality tool for product marketing. The technology can overlay virtual elements onto virtual reality, allowing consumers to “test” it in real-life scenarios to see how they like it.
The IKEA Place app is a great example of AR product marketing. App users can choose a piece of furniture they like and superimpose a two-scale model on its real-life space to see how it looks before buying. This opportunity can increase buyer confidence and sales if people see that they like how a product fits into their lifestyle.
VR marketing applications immerse consumers in branded experiences that can build awareness, recognition and satisfaction. People can explore the world you’ve created, learn more about your products, and even buy VR products.
gucci town Immersive VR is a great example of a branded experience. It’s a virtual world of luxury fashion houses within the Roblox metaverse, where people can explore, learn about its history, and connect with people in the game. They can also buy exclusive Gucci Town clothing for their Roblox avatars.
Yeh Duniya is a new, unique and exciting way to interact with your favorite brands that doesn’t come from watching a TikTok, visiting a store or reading an email newsletter.
One application of AR and VR is experiential marketing, where you invite your audience to interact with your brand in the form of marketing. It’s a valuable application because humans want to make that kind of connection with a brand, and a fun and real-world experience can create an emotional connection.
Netflix’s Stranger Things Experience was an AR experiential marketing experience to promote the show’s upcoming season. Fans tour a personalized space and be part of an interactive AR game experience designed to make them feel like they are in the world of Stranger Things.
Consumer Preferences for AR vs VR
Given their marketing applications, it’s understandable to be curious about what consumers think.
We conducted a survey to ask consumers about their usage of AR and VR and also whether they have preferences for either of them. Respondents reported using AR and VR at similar levels, with most saying they use it a few days a week or once a month or less.
When we asked consumers if they’ve bought an AR app, tool, device or software, the majority said no (55%), 25% said yes, and 20% were thinking about it. The numbers were relatively similar for VR: 50% said no, 30% said yes, and 20% said they were considering it.
When asked whether they prefer AR or VR, a majority said VR. His reasons for liking it were:
- It is a more immersive experience that takes them to an entertaining world,
- The graphics and movement are smooth, and the visuals are better,
- It has more applications than AR and is better suited for video games and interactive entertainment.
- They are more familiar with VR than AR.
Those who liked AR said they appreciated it because it integrated more reality and felt more real, they liked how they could add virtual things to real-world ideas, and that AR was better for life-like experiences such as education, shopping, etc. Quality (QoL) was better for applications. navigation, and healthcare.
A fair amount of respondents also said they either don’t like or have no interest in using one. Some clearly stated that they did not understand what was between the two, and some showed that they could not understand the difference by saying that VR is more realistic than AR when AR is the more life-like option.
This tracks with the results of our latest consumer trends survey, which found that only 39% of respondents understood the concept of the metaverse (which can combine AR and VR elements). simultaneously,
- Only 8% of US adults have ever visited the Metaverse (this remained consistent between the 2022 and 2023 surveys.)
- 47% purchased virtual goods other than NFTs, down 25% from May 2022, meaning marketers planning to sell products in the virtual world may find consumers less willing or interested in buying.
Engagement with virtual worlds is being promoted less, and consumers invest less in virtual goods.
Business Priorities for AR and VR [Data]
Our Marketing Strategy for 2021 report found that 35% of marketers were leveraging AR or VR in their strategies, but 2023, more than a quarter of marketers plan to stop using VR and AR. It’s still intriguing for marketers, but it can be challenging to execute because the tools can be expensive.
However, 14% of marketers plan to explore and take advantage of VR/AR for the first time in 2023.
AR vs VR: Which is More Effective for Marketing [Data]
There is no right or wrong answer as to whether AR or VR is more effective for marketing – it depends entirely on your business goals.
For example, a study done by Tim Hilken in the Netherlands Found that both AR and VR increased customers’ purchase intent, AR was more effective at encouraging purchases, but VR was more effective at creating positive brand attitudes. Both were effective in accomplishing a marketing goal, but for each specific target,
True sensory immersive VR experiences can be expensive and require consumers to have the right device to use them, but our survey results found that most consumers haven’t invested in them. However, virtual worlds such as Horizon Worlds and Roblox do not require sensory devices.
AR may be a cheaper alternative, but it doesn’t have the fully immersive brand experience that allows consumers to disappear into an alternate reality. But, the Stranger Things Experience effectively created an immersive AR experience.
This does not mean that marketers should not use any of these. It boils down to this: AR and VR are both emerging technologies for marketing. Instead of changing your entire strategy to revolve around AR and VR, consider using them as experimental tools. For example, you can create an AR experience as product marketing for a new offer or offer a fun VR game for people to play on your website.
You can test it out and give your audience a new way to interact with your business without relying on it to deliver your marketing goals. It can also be costly, so you are conserving marketing budget and not spending all your money on channels that are not as effective as you expect.
For inspiration, pay attention to what other brands are doing and what people are saying online about their experiences.
over to you
AR and VR have been around for a long time but are still emerging tools for marketers. Consider your business needs and pay attention to what other brands are doing and what people are saying about their experiences online.
Staying ahead of trends simply means paying attention. If VR and AR marketing skyrockets in popularity and becomes a must-have strategy, you’ll already know how your business needs to respond.