Augmented Reality and the South African Market

24 August 2017 |


South Africa is a very interesting market. The population of our country at the moment is sitting at over 55 million people. However, the amount of South African smartphone users is expected to reach only 16.1 million this year. This leaves a massive difference in the amount of people who are digitally enabled and those who aren’t. It also leaves us as digital marketers with a challenge: how do we successfully market to the masses?

When focusing on Augmented Reality (AR) – something that is being touted as the future of digital – it begs the question as to whether it’s suitable for local brands to invest in this when such a limited number of South African consumers can actually use it in a personal capacity.

While we’re on the topic: Should brands be focussing on what could potentially prove to be a fad, or should they be finding more creative ways to connect with potential customers who aren’t digitally enabled?

The Answer is… Yes?

It’s not that there’s no place for AR in the South African market. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. However, there is a specific place for AR in our country. International retailers are already seeing the benefits of AR in their stores.

Some examples of how AR has been integrated into retail stores include:

  • Clothing Retailers –“Smart Mirrors” in clothing stores have proven to be successful in that customers can virtually try on clothes before making a purchase. Not only is this a problem solver, but it also adds a novelty factor that is sure to drive more customers to a physical store.
  • Hardware Stores – “Holorooms”, such as those recently unveiled at Lowe’s in the States, give people the opportunity to see what a remodeled room in their home would look like before they make the commitment to their home makeover endeavour.
  • Makeup Stores – Similar to the “Smart Mirrors” concept, customers can test what a specific product would look like on their skin without having to physically swatch it or buy it and potentially be dissatisfied.

Don’t think that based on the above, there’s no place for your brand to get in on the AR action. Particularly if you think of using it for in-store or onsite activations. Imagine it; you have your product and an Augmented Reality app at your activation booth. Instead of educating your potential customers verbally, you can do it by scanning a smartphone over the packaging. This could bring up pictures on a screen presenting the information on your packaging in an engaging, interesting and educational way.

In doing this, you can inform a group of people about your product instead of one at a time, decreasing the amount of salespeople needed at an activation, which saves you money. This, in turn, improves a potential customer’s views of your brand from a Customer Experience point of view. It could lead them to the conclusion that your brand is not only innovative and on-trend, but thinking of unique ways to solve age-old problems like consumer education and convenience.

To Jump on the Bandwagon, or Not?

Clearly, it’s not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal when it comes to AR and brands. But then again, what in digital marketing is?

In closing. The question isn’t: is AR/ VR right for my brand?

The actual question is: is my brand right for AR/VR?