40% of UK consumers use AR and VR on phones to view products pre-purchase – opening up new marketing options, says DMA

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Two-fifths of Brits have used augmented (39%) or virtual (38%) reality to test or view a product they’re considering – but they are doing in on mobiles, as access to and ownership of VR headsets is declining year-on-year from 12% in 2018 to 9% last year.

According to the DMA’s latest insights – ‘Future Trends: A New World of Experience’ research, published today – adoption of VR technology is being driven by younger consumers, with 22% of 25-34-year olds claiming to own one of these devices.

Meanwhile, smartphones are making it easier for consumers to access augmented reality (AR) experiences from Snapchat filters to Pokémon Go.

And it is this gamification idea that holds the most promise for retailers and brands, finds the study. The number of UK consumers that have used an app to motivate themselves to ‘stick to a personal goal’ reached nearly half of people in 2018 (45%) – rising to 79% for Millennials and 74% for Centennials. In addition, 38% of Brits are interested in using a fitness app that would send them an exercise challenge to complete on a weekly basis.

Gamification can be the opportunity for brands to tap into consumers’ aspirations and desire to challenge themselves. In fact, almost a third (30%) say they are ‘Open to new challenges’, offering brands opportunities to apply these principles beyond health and fitness.

“Health and welfare apps are just the starting point for these gamification strategies. Brands and marketers have an opportunity to use gamification to acquire new customers and build sustainable relationships with existing ones by giving users a unique experience that only their brand can offer,” explains Tim Bond, Head of Insight at the DMA. “For example, in personal banking these can be used to reward loyal customers, in fashion they could unlock exclusive offers or early access to new products – brands could even use gamification metrics to give fans access to exclusive content.”

Bond continues: “Mixed reality technologies, like AR and VR, hold huge potential for organisations to offer customers new ways to bring their brand to life, whether that’s by transporting them to another reality or enhancing the one they’re in. However, it’s also important for marketers to always put the customer at the heart of these experiences and offer them something they will value. Brands must also consider how they can maintain consistency across the digital and physical worlds they now inhabit.” 

Unlocking the power of data

Consumers tend to adopt a pragmatic approach to data sharing, meaning they simply want clarity and control over their data. This need shouldn’t be interpreted as a desire to avoid sharing information – all that consumers ask is a fair exchange.

Overall, 58% of British consumers today are willing to share data with brands for benefits, which has increased by 11% since 2016. Only one in four (26%) people say they’d be unwilling to share data with brands for any reason.

“The key to making these new experiences, strategies and technologies successful is in unlocking the power of customers’ data. As an industry, we can only do that by having a transparent approach with our customers and by making the benefits to sharing their data clear. Most people are happy to share information when they know what they’re giving and why,” says Bond.

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