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10 August 2011

A step closer to reality


Society magazine Tatler recently launched a special edition, which featured a collaboration with augmented reality developer Holition, allowing readers to “try on” millions of pounds worth of jewellery.

Readers were invited to cut out a “virtual ring” from its pages and then download the AR software to their computers. They were then able to select any of the luxury rings to “appear on their hand”, allowing the user to see what they might look like sporting jewellery from the likes of Cartier, Chanel and Faberge.


We’ve experienced shopping from the comfort of our living rooms and (usually less comfortably so) at our office desks, and with constant improvements with zoom and video technology, customers buying online are being brought ever closer to the physical experience of in-store shopping. On other sites, customers have been invited to design their own ‘looks’ based on a collection. Luxury Italian label Salvatore Ferragamo recently did this for the launch of their latest collection – available online only. It would seem obvious that the next step in creating a true brand interaction would be with augmented reality.

However, this technology is not exactly brand new, it has existed for some time and has been used widely in the experiential and field marketing arena to great success. The only drawback for using this advanced technology for these kinds of promotional activities is that you risk engaging the public in such an innovative way that the brand message is drowned out be the experience itself. In effect it is a little too exciting.

However, with e-commerce, and in particular for luxury brands, what you are offering is the chance to bring the consumer closer to the brand experience in a direct way. There is nothing elaborate in Tatler’s concept, it’s quite simple: here’s an opportunity to see what you look like wearing some unfathomably expensive jewellery. But in this context that simplicity works in the brand’s favour.

When making a purchasing decision, particularly when it’s a high-end brand, with a high-end price tag, what the customer wants is to interact with the item; augmented reality is the best technology we currently have on hand that bridges the gap between online and offline retail, however it is way off being perfect and I expect to see more new innovations in this area as brands try to remove any hesitation in the final purchase process.


SEE ALSO: Augmented reality = Absolutely radical = Advertising renaissance


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