Using AR to reach ‘Camera Native’ Gen-Z

girl looking at phone in front of mall escalators

By Faisal Galaria, CEO, Blippar

For Gen Z, Augmented Reality (AR) is already part of their everyday lives. In a recent webinar Snap Inc’s Director of Global Creative Strategy, Will Scougal, said that 200m of its users engage with AR daily on average and that the smartphone camera is the new keyboard.

Born during a time when consumer technology was exploding, GenZ spends up to 10 hours per day scrolling on their mobile devices and has become a ‘camera native’ generation. This means the potential for brands to use AR to engage with this often hard-to-reach audience base is huge – and with Gen-Z estimated to have as much as $143b in disposable income, brands need to take note.

Blippar believes that AR goes far beyond front-camera fun and frivolous uses like hunting pocket monsters or applying face filters. AR’s real potential for brands lies in experiences with the rear-facing mobile phone camera.

Putting the rear camera AR into Marketing

One of the most popular AR uses of the rear-facing smartphone camera is to showcase products, which consumers clearly enjoy; 55% say AR increases their shopping excitement. Have you ever ordered a sofa online, only for it to turn up and be bigger than your actual living room? Well, this is why consumers are 11 times more likely to purchase furniture after trying it for size by putting the furniture ‘in’ their rooms using the rear-facing mobile camera.

AR allows brands to create the on-demand experiences GenZ wants; be that measuring up for sofas in their first flat or swiping to check sustainability credentials — a particularly important factor for Gen Z. An example of this can be seen in the AR experience developed by Blippar for Mars and its Uncle Ben’s rice products – tracing the entire journey from farm to fork – or Blippar’s campaign for Heineken, “Brewing a Better World”, which enabled consumers to scan Heineken bottles and engage with their favourite products on their journey to sustainability. But this is far from the limit of AR’s possibilities. Product interactions can also create positive associations with brands that stimulate greater trust, and word-of-mouth recommendations and reviews, another vital element for Gen Z.

Making brand engagement more engaging

Gen Z expects convenience, constant connectivity and smooth communications.

WebAR lets consumers view AR experiences through their browser by clicking URL links or scanning QR codes with their mobile. It allows marketers to provide them with engaging experiences they can access wherever and whenever, and to use AR outside of dedicated apps and as part of broader multi-channel campaigns – putting AR experiences literally in the hands of most users with a smartphone.

A good example of a complementary partner to AR is out-of-home (OOH) advertising. Major brands such as Burger King have already shown that the two can work together to amplify impact and action. Inspired by speculation about the flavour of its Whopper, Burger King’s latest campaign ties together a TV ad, where a customer is spreading fake news around secret digitally-generated liquid smoke, and OOH billboards featuring QR codes, which users can scan with an Instagram lens to find a trail of smoke leading them to the closest restaurant.

What’s next for AR interaction?

Authenticity is key for Gen Z, and live experiences can take social AR one step further to create deeper engagement.

For example, smartphone brand OnePlus recently used Blippar’s AR technology to broadcast the world’s first live product launch for its OnePlus Nord smartphone. The results speak for themselves and show the appetite for shared experiences: 300,000 pre-launch downloads, 620,000 live views, and over 7 million post-event views.

Brands can also use AR to add a richer experience to practical elements of consumer engagement across a wide range of products and sectors. For example, in the automotive sector, instead of just looking at a 3D image on their social page, through rear-facing cameras consumers can ‘test drive’ the car, see how it looks on their driveway and look at design options like paintwork colour, which creates longer dwell times and even speeds up purchase consideration. Brands like Jaguar Land Rover have already successfully leveraged these immersive AR experiences as part of their sales strategy, putting potential drivers ‘in the driving seat’ of the Range Rover Velar before it launched in 2017.

Generations are categories we and others assign to us. We talk about technology in the same way; computers were one generation of technology, mobile phones the next, and cutting-edge innovations are described as ‘next gen’.

Gen Z’s habits, attitudes and use of the rear camera make next-gen AR the perfect way for brands to reach and engage them.