Unlocking the potential of Augmented Reality: benefits, stats, & examples

Augmented reality (AR) was introduced to the consumer market over a decade ago, and since this introduction,  AR has continued to evolve and permeate our daily lives more and more. 

It’s now 2023 and augmented reality is continuing to grow, that’s why we have put together this article exploring the potential of augmented reality, discussing its purpose, benefits, statistics, and real-world examples that showcase its transformative capabilities. In this article, we are going to explore the following:

What is augmented reality?

In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade or so, it’s probably best that we explain what augmented reality is. Augmented reality can be defined as technology that integrates the digital and physical worlds by allowing virtual images, data, and information to be overlaid in a physical environment.

In other words, AR allows users to see the real world, with virtual objects projected onto it.

Two people stood in a large empty room viewing a yellow sofa via augmented reality on a device.

Augmented reality is a unique technology that offers characteristics that are like no other, imagine the space between virtual reality (VR) and the real world, and boom, augmented reality.

AR has become incredibly sophisticated and advanced in recent years, meaning the tech is now accessible to nearly everyone. Applications reach from gaming and entertainment to industrial and medical uses. That’s right, AR is helping with serious stuff now.

In more recent news, Apple has announced the release of their first spatial computing device that utilises the power of AR incredibly well. The device is called ‘Vision Pro‘ and presents a milestone for the world of augmented reality, it is expected that the release of the headset will spark new meaning, purpose, and drive into the AR universe, so it is important to keep in mind that AR will be on the up.

Augmented Reality: it’s like real life, but better.

Augmented Reality is a term that has been in the mainstream public consciousness for decades. Despite all of the promises, it is only now, since the rise of powerful smartphone technology, that AR is finally a mainstream reality. This post aims to outline some of the many opportunities that AR can now offer organisations and brands of all shapes and sizes.

AR is the term used to describe an enhanced view of real life by overlaying computer-generated content. This computer-generated ‘virtual content’ can be almost anything – video, 3D models, dynamic web content – and it can be triggered by an image, a location or a combination of the two.

Why augmented reality (AR)?

You may be asking yourself, why AR, what can AR offer my brand that perhaps 2D or traditional marketing experiences can’t? Well, we don’t blame you, you’re right to ask these sorts of questions. Truth is, there are hundreds if not thousands of reasons why AR would be beneficial to your brand.

Of course, the type of AR you utilise will depend on the nature of your brand and where it could be best applied. For example, if you had an eCommerce store, you may employ 3D AR viewers to replace static 2D imagery to create a more immersive experience for customers, letting them view products in their own space.

Whereas a streaming service (such as Netflix, Disney+ etc) might want to create an AR advertising campaign, with social media filters themed on their most popular shows.

When it comes to asking yourself, why augmented reality? What does it actually offer me? It is important to remember that you probably shouldn’t be thinking of it this way, it’s important to remember that augmented reality applications have to serve a purpose, it has to provide value to both you and your consumers. Although the technology is incredibly attractive thanks to its many benefits, it is important to remember that to get the full benefits of AR, you first need understand its use and purpose. Just adding AR to your customer journey or marketing plan with no strategic goal behind it will lead to unsatisfactory outcomes, and missing out on key augmented reality benefits.

Augmented reality is becoming extremely useful, and is serving more of a purpose than ever before, meaning questions like why augmented reality are easy to answer.

What are the key benefits of Augmented Reality?

Augmented reality blends the virtual world with the physical world, seamlessly blending digital imagery and information with our physical surroundings. With augmented reality, the possibilities and potential benefits are endless but heavily depend on your application and approach.

From immersive experiences that bridge the gap between the physical and digital realms to practical applications that boost productivity and efficiency, the benefits of augmented reality are vast and diverse.

The benefits of augmented reality extend far and wide, touching various aspects of our personal and professional lives. From enhancing productivity and efficiency in industries to transforming how we learn, travel, and connect with others, augmented reality opens up a world of endless possibilities. By embracing this technology and exploring its applications, you can unlock new benefits and gain a competitive edge in an increasingly digital world.

Whether you’re a business seeking innovative solutions or an individual eager to embrace cutting-edge technology, understanding the benefits of augmented reality is a gateway to unlocking limitless possibilities. Let’s dive into the exciting realm of augmented reality and discover the game-changing advantages it holds.

From increased engagement rates and higher conversions to reduced returns and enhanced learning, the benefits of augmented reality reach far. In this section, we are going to explore the top benefits of augmented reality:

AR benefit #1: Increased engagement

The first benefit of AR we’re going to explore is the potential to unlock increased engagement. No matter whether you apply AR in eCommerce or in entertainment, AR experiences provide more immersive and interactive experiences for users. When users are able to interact with digital content in a real-world environment, it creates a more engaging experience than just viewing on a screen. This is perhaps one of augmented reality’s greatest benefits when compared with other marketing channels or technologies.

Picture this, you’re shopping online for a new sofa, the site you’re on has plenty of choice, imagery, and measurements (but you’re no good at DIY), so you have no idea which one is going to look great, let alone fit in your space. So you try another site and they have an AR visualiser tool that lets you view the sofa in your own space through your smartphone camera. What site do you think you’re more likely to engage with?

If you don’t think the AR visualiser will provide you with more benefits, then you might need to go to the doctor and get checked out. The benefit of increased engagement leads to so many other advantages, including increased buyer confidence, and trust, and it also helps to build an emotional connection between you and your audience.

Check out the example below that Engine Creative collaborated with Argos to create.

AR engagement can come from many applications, perhaps an interactive game, virtual try-on, or even live AR concerts.

AR benefit #2: Competitive differentiation

Perhaps one of the greatest benefits of augmented reality is its ability to make your brand stand out in an otherwise saturated market. In markets where all competitors are offering similar (or the same) products at similar prices, it is key to use tactics to set yourself apart from the rest.

Augmented reality has the ability to help you connect with audiences, convey messages, and provide unique experiences that will gain customers’ trust, and make your brand more memorable.

Let’s take a look at the music industry for example, recently Gorillaz performed a live augmented reality performance in both New York and London, where the famous characters from the band could be viewed playing their new single in the cities. This performance was incredibly unique, got people talking and thousands attended live performances (which were only shown once), allowed them to generate tons of content, and also got both old and new fans talking about Gorillaz again.

Not only this, but they also gained massive reach on social platforms from this and got shed loads of user-generated content. All by using AR tech in an innovative way.

AR benefit #3: Enhanced learning

Another benefit of augmented reality is that it makes learning more interactive and visual, this type of learning is often more memorable and engaging for most users. AR has already proven itself to be an effective tool to spark imagination and create a higher level of understanding. Let’s take a classroom for example, AR can allow teachers to show virtual examples of concepts, or perhaps create gamified experiences to support traditional learning methods to make education more memorable and interactive.

AR learning isn’t just for the classroom though, it can also be used in the workplace in training programs to create more engaging and memorable experiences. Augmented reality training can also make training more realistic. For example, when training doctors or other healthcare professionals AR could be used to project scenes, objects, or information into the physical environment, including anatomies, devices, or equipment.

By leveraging the benefits of augmented reality, both in educational institutions and professional settings, we can unlock a new era of learning that is captivating, effective, and transformative.

AR benefit #4: Reduced return rates

Another great benefit of augmented reality is the fact that it can boost buyer confidence and ensure that customers make more informed decisions. Online retailers are facing a significant challenge as high return rates persist in the era of online shopping. According to market research firm Mintel, almost half of UK online shoppers, and 60% of those aged 16-34, returned items purchased in the past year. UPS conducted a comprehensive study in 2019 and found that 30% of global online shoppers returned goods due to faults or damages, while 27% reported items as “not as described”.

Augmented reality (AR) technology has emerged as a solution to this problem by providing consumers with immersive experiences such as 3D visualisations, virtual try-on, and product demos. AR empowers customers to make informed decisions before making a purchase, thus reducing the likelihood of returns. By offering a unique opportunity to try before buying, AR technology plays a crucial role in combating high return rates and enhancing customer satisfaction.

AR benefit #5: Incredibly accessible

Despite the constant release of high-tech headsets and sophisticated AR software, their accessibility remains limited. However, when it comes to devices that are accessible to the majority of the global population, smartphones are at the forefront with 6.92 billion people having access to them.

Augmented reality on smartphones comes in two forms: app-based and web-based. These forms of AR have significantly improved the accessibility of augmented reality to broader audiences and offer various advantages. However, there are distinct differences between

Previously, for most augmented reality experiences you would need to download an app to use them. WebAR breaks the cycle of needing to download an app to your device before experiencing AR. Most individuals do not want to take the time to download yet another app on their already saturated device, webAR requires no downloads and can be accessed on pretty much any device, from anywhere, at any time.

WebAR’s accessibility through a web browser rather than a dedicated application has made it an appealing option for companies seeking to engage their audiences in a more innovative and seamless manner. With its user-friendly approach and frictionless AR experience, WebAR has generated tremendous interest from businesses looking to create impactful interactions with their target audiences. Check out the example below:

AR Benefit #6: Much higher conversions

eCommerce platform Shopify has released data indicating that products featuring virtual reality (VR) or augmented reality (AR) content have 94% higher conversion rates compared to products without such content. The findings demonstrate the potential of AR to not only increase engagement but also significantly impact eCommerce brands’ conversion rates.

Moreover, research by Deloitte has revealed that the impact of AR on customer behaviour is so profound that 40% of shoppers are willing to pay a premium for products that they have tested using AR technology. This highlights the growing importance of AR in enabling consumers to make informed decisions and its potential to transform the eCommerce landscape.

AR Benefit #7: Data, everywhere

Another great benefit derived from augmented reality is that you now have access to new, exciting data. Augmented reality can help brands to grow in more ways than just technologically advancing. AR allows brands to collect in-depth consumer insights with data about customer behaviour, preferences, and interactions all being accessible. This means that brands can use this data to inform future projects or reignite their old or current campaigns.

Data could even be used to create more personalised experiences for users or can be used for targeted or retargeting marketing efforts. By integrating data from customer profiles and previous interactions, brands can customize AR content and recommendations, creating more relevant and engaging experiences that resonate with individual customers. This data-driven approach helps brands make informed decisions, improve customer engagement, and drive business growth.

Bonus augmented reality benefits:

  • AR increases engagement and interaction and provides a richer user experience
  • Research has shown that AR increases the perceived value of products and brands
  • Well-implemented AR activity conveys innovation and responsiveness from forward-thinking brands
  • AR is mobile and personal and, therefore, hugely accessible to a rapidly growing smartphone market
  • AR is an inexpensive alternative to other media platforms as no specific media needs to be purchased
  • Brands have access to detailed analytics enabling them to truly understand their audience

What do industry leaders think?

When the number of major brands using AR in their marcoms increases as rapidly as it has done in the past 6 months, you know that it is a technology which has finally come of age:

“We were blown away by the technology and we’re certain consumers will be. With one in three UK adults owning a smartphone the potential market for initiatives like this is huge and we are proud to be bringing this incredible technology to the masses.”
Sonia Carter, Head of Digital at Kraft Foods

“With the high penetration rate of smartphones… we hope to drive this [AR] forward with innovative features and functionalities synonymous with the Volkswagen brand to allow our customers to connect with us at a deeper level.”
Jamie Lee, General Manager of Marketing Communications at Volkswagen Group Singapore

“Bringing the artwork to life on the CD cover for The Ting Tings is hugely exciting. Aurasma’s augmented reality opens the door to a more interactive relationship with the consumer via otherwise two dimensional means.”
Kelly Bush, Senior Marketing Manager Sony Music UK

Advantages of augmented reality

While the benefits of augmented reality can be seen in its ability to create immersive experiences and enhance user engagement, let’s dive a little deeper into the distinct advantages of augmented reality that set it apart from other technologies. In this section, we will explore the unique advantages of augmented reality that make it an indispensable tool for various industries and applications.

One of the primary advantages of augmented reality is its capacity to bridge the gap between the digital and physical worlds, allowing users to access and interact with digital information seamlessly within their real-world environment. This fusion of realities not only improves user experience but also enables businesses to create innovative solutions that cater to the specific needs and preferences of their target audience.

Another advantage of augmented reality is its near-limitless applications, augmented reality is not limited to a single realm; it permeates every industry, transcending boundaries and unlocking endless possibilities. From revolutionizing education by bringing textbooks to life to empowering healthcare professionals with enhanced visualization, AR is a game-changer that reshapes the very fabric of our world.

Additionally, the adaptability of AR technology makes it compatible with a wide range of devices and platforms, ensuring its accessibility to a broader audience.

The advantages of augmented reality extend beyond its apparent benefits, offering a unique perspective on its impact and value in our ever-evolving digital landscape.

Augmented reality applications

Augmented reality (AR) has gained immense popularity over the past few years due to its ability to enhance user experiences and offer new possibilities for interaction. AR technology has been applied across various industries, from gaming to healthcare and education, and is now significantly impacting the art world.

Here, we explore some of the innovative applications and industries that augmented reality has found its way into:

Healthcare: AR technology has made significant strides in the healthcare sector, aiding medical professionals in improving patient care and outcomes. Surgeons can now utilize AR to visualize 3D models of a patient’s anatomy during procedures, allowing for more precise and minimally invasive surgeries. Medical students also benefit from AR simulations, enabling them to practice surgical techniques in a controlled environment.

Retail: The retail industry has embraced AR to create immersive and personalized shopping experiences. By leveraging AR, customers can virtually try on clothes, accessories, and makeup without stepping into a store. Furthermore, AR applications enable users to visualize how furniture and other home decor items would look in their homes before purchasing. This technology not only enhances customer satisfaction but also reduces product returns.

Education: Augmented reality has the potential to transform education by making learning more interactive and engaging. AR applications can bring textbooks to life by overlaying digital content onto physical pages, creating an immersive learning experience. Students can also interact with 3D models of historical artefacts or scientific concepts, deepening their understanding and retention of the material.

Manufacturing: AR is making waves in the manufacturing sector by improving efficiency, safety, and accuracy. With AR-enabled wearables, workers can access real-time information and instructions, reducing the need for printed manuals and lengthy training sessions. AR also enables remote collaboration, allowing experts to provide guidance and troubleshoot issues from any location.

Tourism: Augmented reality has opened new doors for the tourism industry by offering travellers an enriched and informative experience. AR applications can provide real-time information about tourist attractions, overlaying historical facts, and user-generated reviews onto the user’s environment. Moreover, AR-powered navigation can guide travellers through unfamiliar cities and enhance their overall experience.

Augmented Reality: the stats

In 2023, augmented reality is ready for mainstream adoption from both corporate and small brands alike. With advancing technology making it easier to create in-house AR campaigns quickly (like our very own REYDAR technology), AR is now more accessible to both brands and consumers.

With recent years proving to be a difficult period to be out and about with the Coronavirus pandemic, AR isn’t just a short-term trending gimmick, but a long-term branding experience.

Here are some of the key stats that provide just that:

  • AR engagement is up nearly 20% since the beginning of 2020 with conversion rates increasing by 90% for consumers engaging with AR compared to those that don’t. Source: Retail Customer Experience.
  • 3D content can increase conversion by up to 27.96% on retailer websites. Source: Mobile Marketer.
  • SAP Direct Mail experience saw an 81.91% uptake of recipients receiving the direct mail that went on to experience the Augmented Reality Campaign. Source: Reydar.

For more augmented reality stats & facts check out this post – “21 Augmented Reality Facts & Stats (2023)”

Engine Creative is an award-winning integrated creative agency and world-leading Augmented Reality campaign provider. We started at the very beginning of AR creating the world’s first fully Augmented Magazine for Top Gear (View case study here) and have since gone on to provide AR marketing campaigns for Samsung, Argos and Tesco.


Unlock the potential of AR for your brand

For more information on how to bring your brand and products to life with augmented reality, please call us on 01604 453 177 or drop us an email.

Find out more about our Augmented Reality services