Millennials are defined as those born in the 1980s -- between 42 and 50 million (USA Today stats) who came of age with the new century, now between 18 and 28, and have also come of age truly wired, far more so than Boomers ( now reaching retirement age) or Gen Xers, ages 30-45. Millennials have grown up linked by BlackBerries, Androids, IPhones, computers, IPods, and video games. This is the generation of Wii, Facebook, Twitter, free downloads, access to just about everything. How do luxury brands engage these mindsets?
Thankfully, Augmented Reality, is proving to be a major force in this engagement. It is a process already in existence that combines two diverse dynamics: the perception of personal exclusivity and, a multi-dimensional, sensory experience. Augmented Reality, or AR, is a method for using a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are augmented by computer-generated sensory input, like sound or graphics. It presents unique opportunities in terms of virtual fashion shows, digital flagship stores, 3D advertising campaigns, augmented reality Iphone applications, iPad magazines, Facebook live-streams and Twitter-based customer service. These are just a few examples of the long list of digital innovations that luxury brands have pioneered in 2010. And the field is growing. According to figures from ABI Research, the market for augmented reality (AR) in the US alone is expected to hit $350m in 2014, up from about $6m in 2008, or, around 50 times more from 2008 to 2014.
Augmented Reality is taking digital marketing strategies to a more sensory, immediate, attuned level -- perfect for Millenials, and others on either side of the generational divide. AR enables consumers to virtually try on jewelry, watches, clothing and handbags. The technology requires object recognition and computerization on the PCs, Macs or mobile devices as well as 3D renderings to superimpose images on the real world. What this process does is allow greater interactivity in the selling/buying process, creating an emotional connection between product needs and consumer desires. As a prime example, Tissot Reality: through its website Tissot lets users print and cut out a paper strip in order to try on virtual watches. Tissot showcased the application with an interactive Selfridges, London window display. This reportedly resulted in increasing in-store sales at Selfridges by 85%, while the YouTube views of the campaign have surpassed 70,000. See below, with the Tissot wrist watch AR video: