The amount of time consumers spend on social media platforms has skyrocketed over the years, and brands and platforms alike have taken note of the value of consumers’ largely undivided attention. Where in the past users would aimlessly scroll and brands looked to gain general exposure, there are now abundant opportunities to turn awareness into conversions.
Social commerce is expected to generate over $45 billion in 2022, and $79 billion by 2025. A study by The Harris Poll found that 79% of brands plan to sell via social media in the next three years. While this growth is exciting for social platforms, brands who are looking to leverage social media as a significant contributor to sales must find a way to stand out in a particularly noisy and crowded environment. To do so, several brands have turned to augmented reality (AR) to capture attention, deliver value, and convert.
When it comes to AR, Snapchat is by far the most recognized social media platform. Their filters, also called lenses, debuted back in January 2015, and quickly became a fundamental element of the platform’s success. The first sponsored lens came from Tiffany’s in 2016. Since then, hundreds of sponsored filters have been created, and the capabilities have expanded from text and face filters, to fully immersive AR campaigns.
One of the earliest adopters of visual search, Pinterest has dedicated significant resources to increasing the level of interactivity that users have with brands on the platform. Brands including NARS, Urban Decay, and Lancome have leveraged this capability, and research from Pinterest showed that consumers who activated the AR Try On for lipsticks averaged 6 try on colors, and were 5X as likely to show purchase intent.
Tiktok does not currently have augmented reality capabilities, however they did launch a private beta for selected developers in August 2021 called TikTok Effects Studio, which is intended to launch AR effects on the platform. Experts believe that while an AR application may look different on TikTok, the platform lends itself well to immersive experiences beyond virtual try on alone.
While AR has not become central to social commerce on Facebook and Instagram, the growth of Spark AR and the recent additions to the advertising opportunities on both platforms signal the social giant’s awareness and interest in AR for social commerce. Additional partnerships have also allowed brands working with the platforms to leverage AR for paid campaigns.
Kohl’s rolled out a virtual closet with Snapchat in 2020, allowing users to shop their favorite styles and make a purchase without leaving the app. This immersive experience not only elevated the discovery process, but the streamlined interactions removed the friction between discovery and purchase.
Jeans may not have been a closet staple during the pandemic, but American Eagle and Snap found ways to get buyers excited about wearing real pants again through an interactive AR campaign that brought AE’s latest styles to the social app. While sales numbers attributed to the campaign were not reported, CEO Jay Schottenstein cited a leading customer experience across all selling channels as a key contributor to AE’s 2021 growth.
With a variety of brands under its umbrella, L’Oreal looks to connect with a wide audience base while optimizing its tool kit. Partnering with Pinterest, the firm has launched virtual try-ons on social for brands ranging from NYX to Lancome and YSL. This is not L’Oreal’s first foray into augmented reality either; the parent company also owns AI/AR platform ModiFace, and is in the process of working with Facebook to integrate AR and virtual try-on into Facebook and Instagram Shops.
The real question facing marketers who are considering AR for commerce is whether the technology will drive impactful results. For eyewear brand Bollé, the answer is a definitive yes. Following two AR campaigns on Instagram the brand saw 313% YoY sales growth at a national retailer. Additional metrics for the campaigns showed a 5.6% click through rate, and a nearly 20 second dwell time for the 3D models.
Early adopters of AR for social commerce have seen strong results, and the latest releases from platforms indicate a belief that brands will drive value with more immersive and interactive experiences on social channels. But while marketers are excited about the prospect of generating more sales through AR, how do their customers feel?
Research from eMarketer shows that 59% of consumers aged 18-34 are interested in or have already made a purchase while using AR for shopping. 94% of those who have used AR while shopping plan to do so more often in 2022. For industries such as apparel, beauty, and furniture, AR within a brand experience is quickly becoming an expected feature among consumers. According to a study by Google and Iposos, 43% of smartphone users expect beauty brands to AR. Additional studies have shown that 70% of consumers believe that they would be more loyal to brands that incorporate AR into the shopping experience, and 53% believe that retailers are not taking full advantage of augmented reality.
Augmented reality has already begun to leave its mark on commerce, and social commerce in particular. Looking forward, 3D and augmented reality capabilities will no longer be “nice to haves” to remain competitive, but will be essential to attracting and retaining customers across verticals.
Want to find out how you can leverage AR in social commerce for your brand? Book an Augmented Reality demo with one of our experts today.