Six examples of AR and VR in marketing practice

by Dr. Thomas Meyer

Posted on 12-12-2017

In recent years, the phrase ‘vir­tu­al real­i­ty’ (VR) has come back into fash­ion, and now aug­ment­ed real­i­ty (AR) is a hot top­ic for many experts. This is a par­tic­u­lar­ly excit­ing devel­op­ment for the mar­ket­ing indus­try. VR and AR have some things in com­mon, but are dif­fer­ent in many ways. In both VR and AR, com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed con­tent plays a key role, but where­as vir­tu­al real­i­ty ful­ly immers­es you in this arti­fi­cial world, with aug­ment­ed real­i­ty the dig­i­tal ele­ments form part of our real world.

For **vir­tu­al real­i­ty, **you need a head­set such as Ocu­lus Rift or HTC Vive, plus a fair­ly pow­er­ful PC. Less pow­er­ful but a good deal cheap­er, your smart­phone can alter­na­tive­ly be used as the headset’s ‘brain’. This is the case with Samsung’s Galaxy VR for instance, or the Day­dream plat­form for Android devices. By 2018 we will see stand­alone head­sets that need nei­ther a PC nor a smartphone.

For aug­ment­ed real­i­ty, on the oth­er hand, you need a smart­phone or a tablet. The future for AR, how­ev­er, will take the form of head­sets or glass­es that super­im­pose dig­i­tal con­tent over our field of vision. Microsoft’s HoloLens is one pro­to­type that is already avail­able to try out. Secre­tive start-up Mag­ic Leap is also work­ing on a head­set, and Apple is rumoured to be doing the same.

What makes AR and VR so attrac­tive for mar­ket­ing right now? Since video’s tri­umphant takeover of the web, it has been very appar­ent just how well visu­al con­tent can work. In the case of vir­tu­al real­i­ty, the user is plunged into the heart of the con­tent and immersed in a com­put­er-gen­er­at­ed world. In the case of aug­ment­ed real­i­ty, the user can view prod­ucts and get a per­son­al impres­sion of them before mak­ing any deci­sions. Below, we give a few exam­ples of AR and VR use in practice.

Ikea: Trying out furniture the AR way

The Swedish fur­ni­ture store is using its AR app to help cus­tomers choose the right item of fur­ni­ture. Cus­tomers view the prod­ucts not just as pho­tographs in the cat­a­logue, but can also check out how arm­chairs, tables and book­cas­es fit into their own homes at the swipe of a fin­ger. This not only facil­i­tates deci­sion-mak­ing, but is also good fun!

Franke Kitchens: Kitchen purchase as a virtual customer experience

With Vir­tu­al Show­room, cus­tomers of kitchen man­u­fac­tur­er Franke can not only view their future dream kitchens, they can also expe­ri­ence them vir­tu­al­ly. In the three-dimen­sion­al kitchen world, you can push around cup­boards, large appli­ances and kitchen sinks to your heart’s con­tent, as well as change colours and try dif­fer­ent mate­ri­als. The entire envi­ron­ment, cre­at­ed using Adobe Expe­ri­ence Man­ag­er, runs in your web brows­er and is scaled to the end device used thanks to its respon­sive design.

Gap: Virtual changing rooms

Like Ikea, fash­ion spe­cial­ist Gap uses AR to make shop­ping sim­pler and more enter­tain­ing. In their vir­tu­al chang­ing rooms you can view gar­ments from all sides in your own size, check details and much more. In future, sim­i­lar actions will be pos­si­ble with­out the need for com­plex tech­nol­o­gy: after all, pret­ty soon almost every­body will be equipped with an AR screen on their smartphones.

“Wild – The Experience”: an interactive film

This VR short film was part of the adver­tis­ing cam­paign for the Reese With­er­spoon movie “Wild”. If you look in one par­tic­u­lar direc­tion whilst watch­ing the film, an addi­tion­al scene is trig­gered. Nat­u­ral­ly, this kind of 360º pro­duc­tion is very com­plex and expen­sive, and large­ly for this rea­son YouTube has since launched a for­mat that it calls VR180. This does not offer a com­plete all-round view, but makes few­er demands on sup­port­ing hard­ware and software.

Marriott: virtual travelling

The Mar­riott hotel chain calls its VR instal­la­tion “Trans­porters”, in homage to Star Trek. It enables users to expe­ri­ence many of its hotel loca­tions all around the world, which can be a high­ly emo­tive experience.


AR and VR can con­jure up com­plete­ly new expe­ri­ences. They can sur­prise, excite and pro­voke every pos­si­ble emo­tion. Or they can be entire­ly prac­ti­cal, help­ing peo­ple make every­day deci­sions on fur­ni­ture or a new out­fit! And although both aug­ment­ed real­i­ty and vir­tu­al real­i­ty may be famil­iar sub­jects for experts, this is not the case for many users, for whom the nov­el­ty of these tech­nolo­gies is still strong. It is there­fore well worth­while con­sid­er­ing the pos­si­ble areas of future appli­ca­tion right now.

Topics: Digital Transformation, Augmented Reality, marketing, virtual reality, UK, UK Exclusive, Digital EMEA