Sephora shoppers virtually try on makeup, while Macy’s and IKEA allow consumers to transpose furniture into their homes. Plenty of retailers are using augmented reality (AR) in innovative ways. But not every brand has such an obvious use case.

From Oreo to 7-Eleven, we’ve identified six brands using AR in more out-of-the-box ways.

1. Oreo

The basics: Developed in partnership with Google, “The Great Oreo Cookie Quest” is a mobile game that asks players questions such as, “What puts hands on your wrist?” If you point your smartphone at a watch—the app determines accuracy with object-recognition technology—you’re awarded an AR Oreo cookie and points.

The benefits: One major obstacle brands have with AR is what fair-weather friends most consumers are to the apps they download. A retailer like Sephora has enough product variety, not to mention regular customers, that an app makes sense. But how many cookies does one person buy? Oreo looked to circumvent that challenge by capitalizing on how much people love AR scavenger hunts.

2. Kate Spade

The basics: Kate Spade developed an app called My Little Paris Tapage, a virtual walking tour of the city. On the app’s “Joy Walks,” consumers could see virtual surprises such as flamingos in the Seine. They could also learn more about three fashion influencers’ favorite spots in Paris. Including Kate Spade’s first physical store in the city, obviously.

The benefits: Bringing AR to the try-on process is a popular tactic for retailers, but Kate Spade used the technology in a slightly different way. Instead, the brand focused on driving traffic to a brick-and-mortar location during Paris Fashion Week.

3. New York Times

The basics: Viewers could use The New York Times’ app to watch complementary content during the Winter Olympics, learning more about the sports and athletes as they watched. One featured athlete was Team USA figure skater Nathan Chen, who was scanned three-dimensionally in a static pose; the model was later edited to create the AR scene. Viewers could slow Chen down to see just how many turns he did in mid-air, as well as hear him explain how he executed the move.

The benefits: AR offers another, more interactive way to tell stories. The technology is still somewhat of a novelty in the publishing world, which gave The New York Times an opportunity to stand out.

New York Times-AR

4. Amazon

The basics: Consumers are increasingly turning to Amazon for apparel, particularly basic items such as underwear and athleticwear. In November, the ecommerce giant updated its app to incorporate AR into certain products. One early tester is fitness apparel brand Mission, whose would-be customers can see a virtual fitness model working out in their homes, courtesy of 360-degree virtual reality video content studio Groove Jones.

The benefits: AR gives consumers the opportunity to virtually try on clothes. By showing them Mission’s apparel on fitness models rather than themselves, Amazon is promoting products, while also adding value by showing people how to correctly do different moves.


5. Bareburger

The basics: Everyone can relate to the feeling of disappointment when a restaurant dish comes out looking like not quite what you had in mind. Soon, that won’t be an issue at Bareburger, which is replacing paper menus with 3D AR menus equipped with Snapcodes.

The benefits: AR technology that requires an app—but it doesn’t necessarily have to be the brand’s own. Bareburger customers will be able to preview their food from any angle through a filter on Snapchat, an app 187 million people were using every day as of Q4 last year.

6. 7-Eleven

The basics: 7-Eleven launched its first AR in-store experience to promote the upcoming Deadpool 2. Features include Deadpool guiding users around the store and a related selfie filter. There are also scannable codes that unlock in-store activities and loyalty points. Consumers can also win prizes such as movie tickets and a free trip to Las Vegas.

The benefits: Loyal customers are the best customers and piggybacking off the popularity of Deadpool, the ninth-highest grossest film of 2016, encourages people to download and engage with 7-Eleven’s app, which is essentially a loyalty program. 7-Eleven is small enough that there’s not much need for a tour, but Deadpool is likely a pretty amusing guide.


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