It goes without saying that 2020 fundamentally altered the way we do business. Tradeshows are distant memories. Remembering product launch parties is as fragmented as recalling my twenties. What about those quirky popups in midtown? Just a tickle of nostalgia.

In the age of COVID-19, it’s time to reconsider how we do business. Because—let’s face it—COVID-19 exacerbated most of these problems, but they were a long time coming. Foot traffic has been steadily declining for decades, so even though the pandemic is temporary, the challenges we’ve uncovered will last a lot longer.

Farewell to Foot Traffic

If your money-maker is in-person events or brick-and-mortar stores, you’re probably having a bad time right now. According to Business Insider, foot traffic this year has declined (shocking, I know) and remains volatile within the US.

But all is not lost. There are still numerous ways to engage with your customers – from digital events to engaging AR experiences to build buzz and boost your e-commerce. For example, retailers can allow people to test products digitally—from makeup to jackets.  You can see it in Amazon’s app, Warby Parker’s, Ikea’s – AR commerce has been growing into adolescence over the last few years, but the pandemic ripped it into adulthood.

What’s great about augmented reality is that it’s powered by the technology everyone already has. With a smartphone, you can transport people to a new realm, a magic world that balances a sense of adventure with a thoughtful branding exercise.

According to Retail Customer Experience, AR engagement has increased nearly 20% in the COVID-19 era—but what’s more interesting is that they found conversion rates increase 90% for consumers using AR.

What all of this means is that businesses need to adapt quickly.

(Re)Building Brand Awareness

While the digital realm still offers opportunities to build brand awareness, the loss of popup shops and in-person events has hurt several sectors. Events like those are about creating experiences, generating buzz, staying in touch with communities. It’s hard to replicate that with a Facebook post, you know.

But that’s where augmented reality apps can come in. Augmented reality isn’t just for digital try-ons—it’s an experiential platform that can drive narratives and generate the same buzz as those popups.

For example, we create Magic Rooms – virtual doorways to narrative-driven experiential journeys.

Experiential marketing like Magic Rooms allows you to build relationships with consumers and drive experiences that they’ll talk about and remember. They’re ideal for brand engagement, product launches—really, they can serve a similar function as a traditional popup would. And it’s worth mentioning that a digital experience doesn’t limit you to a specific geographical area. You can target the whole world.

But What About My Budget?!

Marketing budgets are getting hacked away with extraordinary violence these days, so perhaps your first response to AR is: I don’t have the budget.

But have you actually checked?

Creating a AR experience like a Magic Room isn’t as cost-prohibitive as you’d think. If you compare how expensive those in-person events are to the cost of an AR experience, the difference is minimal—maybe even better—and you have something you can build upon, grow and develop into even greater experiences.

Consider the construction expenses if you’re building a popup or attending a tradeshow. Booth design. How about catering costs?

Conclusion

COVID may have paused the world, your business doesn’t have such a luxury. As businesses, we’ve got to remain relevant in the age of COVID and continue to drive success in new and inventive ways.

Augmented reality doesn’t only afford us the opportunity to stand out from our competition—it allows us to connect with our audience in ways we otherwise can’t.

But perhaps we shouldn’t think of AR as an adaptation to the pandemic. Because that’s not what it is. It’s the future of commerce, and the pandemic has highlighted this fact, not created it.

About Us

We are an augmented and virtual reality development agency in New York that reimagines how people interact with brands. Our developers disrupt the status quo and uncover values others can’t find. We solve tomorrow’s business challenges in thoughtful, elegant ways and aim to be strategic leaders in app development in New York - innovators in user experiences. Our mission is to arm businesses for digital revolution. For more information on how new tech can help your business thrive, contact us today.

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