Luxury brands embrace 'augmented reality'
Luxury brands are beginning to explore the benefits of 'augmented reality' (AR) in their latest attempts to attract and retain wealthy customers, with Bloomingdales having recently become the fifth brand to employ technology from Holition and Tacori in its pre-Christmas 3D touch screen campaign.
Holition had previously worked with other luxury brands including De Beers Jewellers, Boucheron, Tissot and Tag Heuer to develop augmented reality campaigns ranging from 3D touch screen window displays in London, New York and Japan to an application for Boucheron allowing customers to virtually 'try on' jewellery in real time via the internet.
According to Holition, these luxury brands are increasingly keen to embrace new and innovative technologies to help engage the online customer and to extend their in-store experiences even further, and the latest 3D technologies fit that mandate perfectly.
Jonathan Chippindale, chief executive for Holition, said: "While some brands might be interested in just the 'wow factor', luxury brands generally won't touch a product unless it's the best. Soon the question won't be 'why', but rather 'why not'?"
In July 2010 the company created a 3D film for De Beers Jewellers, which was played in its Japanese store window display at Isetan in Tokyo. The film was customised for a special 3D screen that doesn't require viewers to wear 3D glasses, offering a less intrusive 3D experience of the beauty of the jewels on offer. The 3D campaign proved so successful that De Beers announced plans to roll out the same campaign in London and New York.
The possibilities for 3D technology are vast. For example, through a webcam the consumer is able to see for themselves the elements of the physical real-world environment being augmented by virtual computer-generated imagery. By taking the 3D technology out of the stores and onto the internet, luxury brands such as Boucheron and Tissot are becoming more accessible and helping shoppers who might be intimidated by entering a store to experience the brand in the comfort of their own home.
"Clearly it's not the same as trying on a product in person, but it is taking the consumer one step closer to the brand without having to leave home," said Chippindale.
Part of Holition's challenge has been convincing brands that their target customers will interact with 3D and the social networking aspects attached to such campaigns. "Luxury goods wouldn't have thought that social media users would be their target customers, but 46% of mass-affluents use social media. It's no longer just teenagers in their bedrooms but CEOs in their offices," explained Chippindale.