You are here

From Pokémon Go to Pepsi: Augmented Reality in Marketing


From Pokémon Go to Pepsi: Augmented Reality in Marketing

Who would have thought looking for pretend monsters on the streets of NYC would be a huge success? I know I was surprised when Pokémon Go became one of the top downloaded apps in 2016. This gaming app broke the mold for augmented reality usage in the consumer space and ultimately advertising. The app engaged players to travel around their area in search of mystical creatures. Retailers would even pay to have their location become a hotspot for app users, leading to increased store traffic. Pokémon Go’s success brought augmented reality out of the sci-fi books and into our present world.


Personally, when I first was introduced to augmented reality years ago— even though cool— I thought it would be as popular as QR codes. A quick cool gimmick that would raise fast, but fade as fast as Silly Bands. But to my surprise, augmented reality has entered the marketing space, and is projected to have 1 billion users by 2020.


But what is augmented reality (AR)? Augmented Reality is when an image is superimposed on a user’s view of the real world. The best day-to-day example is the dog Snapchat filter. If you are not familiar with Snapchat, below is an example of how Pepsi used AR to advertise Pepsi Max. Pepsi Max is the lower calorie, sugar-free version of the soft drink. The ads typically speak to the “unbelieve taste” of the product. So, Pepsi decided to bring the “unbelievable” to life, by installing a unique digital bus shelter unit in the UK:

“Pepsi Max”

AR doesn’t always have to include the fanfare of the Pepsi ad, companies like Sephora, WatchBox, and Houzz now are using AR in order to enhance the consumer experience with their virtual try-on features.


Sephora, a make-up retailer and distributor, launched a new app in 2017, where consumers have the ability to virtual try-on different make-up shades, colors and style.


WatchBox, a global e-commerce platform for pre-owned luxury watches, also launched a mobile app feature where consumers can try on an array of watch-styles before buying. This AR function was added since about 1/3 of the watches purchased on site were returned after consumers claimed “it looked different on site.” The company hopes this AR tool will help consumers more confident in their buy decisions.


Houzz, a home renovation and design service, has a feature where consumers can try different furniture in their homes in real time in order for them to see if it will work in their space. Check out the video below to learn more about the feature:


As companies like these slowly integrate AR into the consumer experience, consumers may seek more from other brands. The ability to create “what if” situations in real time is the beauty of AR. Not only from the consumer’s perspective but also from the company’s. AR is a way for consumers to get a feel for a company’s product/service without the company worrying about discounts, reimbursements or the logistics of returns. I can soon see virtual try-on becoming a norm. Maybe next we will see AR used on menus in restaurants, so we can actually see what that fancy French dish looks like before we say, “yeah, that one.”