Is an AR demo better than the real thing?
Trying out a toy in-store can get kids excited about the product. And once kids are interested in a toy, they can be very effective in convincing their parents to buy it. Mattel is now taking this experience into the virtual world with augmented reality (AR) at the shelf.
This fall the brand is introducing an AR app for its Hot Wheels playsets, according to Engadget. The app will allow users to interact with a virtual on-screen version of a playset when they point their device at it on the shelf. Part of the intention behind the tool is to allow customers to get a feel for how the product will work while preventing retailers from using up floor space on toy demos.
While AR can provide an engaging new experience for customers, can it motivate a purchase as effectively as physically playing with a real-world toy?
Mattel is not the first toy company to experiment with on-shelf AR. In 2014, early-adopter Lego rolled out its “In-Store Action” app. The app lets users scan posters in-store to bring up and interact with an on-screen animated Lego figure.
Toy retailers have experimented with AR as well. Last fall, Toys “R” Us began rolling out an AR experience to its stores. Using a phone or tablet, customers could play an AR game that was thematically linked to the section of the store in which they were standing at each of 13 “stations.”
Letting customers try before they buy is an AR use case growing popular outside of the toy world, too. Last year, for instance, IKEA rolled out its Place app, which lets users superimpose a virtual image of a specific piece of furniture over a space in their home to see how it would look.
- How Mattel is using AR to let you preview Hot Wheels playsets – Engadget
- LEGO In-Store Action – Trigger Global
- Can AR trigger TRUs turnaround? – RetailWire
- See if your Toys R Us store is on the closure list – USA Today
- IKEA Launches IKEA Place, a New App that Allows People to Virtually Place Furniture in Their Home – IKEA
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Should brands plan to use augmented reality technology instead of in-store demos for toys and other products? Will retailers fail to “delight” customers by gravitating too far toward AR rather than physical demos?