AR, VR, and AI Show the Way for Marketing in 2023
Over the last few years, consumer needs — and the technology available to businesses — have evolved to bring together the physical and digital worlds like never before. In the shopping experience, digital and physical have become so intertwined that a new category of customer experience has emerged: hybrid customer experiences.
This has brought about rapid evolution in the way digital marketing is planned and practiced. Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are particularly central to the continuing maturity of the hybrid experience. Business leaders need to keep innovating in the coming year to stay ahead. Here’s where we’re seeing AR and AI influencing marketing and the consumer experience in 2023.
Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality Are Here to Stay (and Evolve)
Over the past year, we saw AR and VR shopping experiences take off while consumers were unable to browse brick-and-mortar stores during the pandemic. AR combines real-world and computer-generated content into an interactive experience that is interwoven in the real world. VR is a simulated, fully-immersive experience that can be explored 360 degrees.
AR-powered features like virtual try-ons and product visioning have become familiar. Think of IKEA, offering its customers the opportunity to see how a piece of furniture would actually fit in their home before even going to the store. But we’re also using AR to try on clothes and accessories, translate menus, and more. As augmented reality grows beyond its infancy, we’re seeing more and more use cases from a wider variety of businesses. In the near future, we’ll see AR move from being a cool add-on in businesses’ marketing experiences to a must-have in digital marketing strategy.
Virtual reality tours are an excellent example of how VR has entered our everyday lives. These types of experiences have become popular during the pandemic, when we used it to travel to Rome or the Louvre from our couch, and have recently been used by retailers too. The shoes and clothing maker TOMS, for example, added VR headsets in their stores and invited customers to experience a charity trip first-hand. In this trip, shoppers could feel the impact of their donation and create an emotional bond with the brand. Such enhanced experiences help businesses not only to offer a memorable shopping journey, but also to connect with customers at a deeper level and return them into loyal brand ambassadors.
Businesses that recognize AR and AI use cases relevant to their products, services, and customers will score in the coming year. Those who can envision and implement the most creative and intuitive applications to bring their products into the lives of consumers ahead of time will set new standards for their respective industries. This will help them secure long term competitive advantage by fostering consumer loyalty and affinity early in the marketplace.
Artificial Intelligence Powers Deeper, More Personalized Consumer Experiences
AI powers personalization and optimizes the shopping experiences that make virtual product interactions look and feel realistic and relevant to individual consumers. Chatbots are a clear example of how AI can support that. They not only make the customer journey easier by replying to a shoppers queries, but they can also interact in a personalized and human-like way.
The opportunities for businesses to meaningfully integrate products, services, and business information into AI-enabled experiences are limited only by their own creativity and access to the AI technology that can make their vision a reality. In 2023 and beyond, we can expect these AI-driven experiences to continue moving toward the center of digital marketing strategy, thanks to their ability to take the hybrid customer experience to a new level.
Here’s Where AR, VR, and AI Come Together
In these emerging, immersive virtual and hybrid shopping experiences, AR, VR, and AI are complementary to each other. AI and machine learning continually process relevant data to develop and optimize AR and VR experiences. This brings personalization of marketing to an entirely new and more impactful phase.
The evolution of these experiences is accelerating, driving an even higher standard for businesses to meet. Customers will increasingly expect to not just observe images and text, but be an active participant, and for businesses to succeed they must develop applications that drive real benefits to the consumer.
It’s not enough for businesses to observe how technology is changing marketing and shopping. To stay competitive, a business has to lead and innovate. In 2023, leading businesses will continue to explore and test new use cases and relevant experiences. For a business that isn’t already taking action, now is the time to get on board.
Florian Hübner is the CEO and founder of Uberall.