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June 2021

Immersive Digital

Burberry pocket bag AR – courtesy of Burberry


The commercial return of innovation is never greater than during a crisis. 


And as our actual realities took a turn for the surreal when the pandemic started, virtual and augmented technologies boomed. 


Consumers trapped in their home embraced newer technologies like never before. 


Even pre-pandemic, Deloitte digital research found there was growing interest among shoppers with 71% stating they would shop more often as a result of AR apps. 


By 2025, it is estimated that the augmented reality market in retail, commerce and marketing will surpass $12 billion, with 75% of global smartphone users frequently using this technology.


So how are brands responding in the rush to elevate digital experiences in line with new consumer expectations and behaviours? 

Sketch x HATO app – courtesy of Sketch


Immersive technology can help brands deliver next-level functionality as well as reinforce or revitalise the brand message. 


Focusing on function, Google’s latest update to Maps helps users navigate indoors with AR markers and arrows while consumers in Amazon’s first ever hair salon can ‘point & learn’ as well as try different hair shades before committing to a new look. 


Hard-hit hospitality leans more towards emotive digital experiences. During lockdown, our favourite example used sound rather than reality technology to re-create that neighbourhood bar feeling.


Now tempting guests back to its iconic Parlour, London’s Sketch is bringing David Shrigley’s art to life through AR enabled theatre. Retail is using similar tactics, with Burberry creating ‘The World of Olympia’ at Harrods for the launch of their latest handbag. 


Whether playful or practical, it is clear immersive digital has the power to nudge consumers back into the real world. 

Virtual Gucci Garden – courtesy of Dezeen


A major challenge for brands is understanding how to design immersive experiences.


In the retail industry, experiential is often cited as the future, but development has been slow compared to the surging interest among consumers. 


Global innovation evangelist, Brian Solis, believes an iterative design approach is holding back retailers, with a more radical re-think required to reverse declining footfall. 


Lyst’s hottest brand in Q1 2021, Gucci continues to captivate luxury consumers of all generations through a clever blend of immersive physical and digital spaces. 

To celebrate 100 years, a sumptuous exhibition at Gucci Garden in Florence is also re-imagined in Roblox’s virtual 3D world


Ability to view experience design holistically, and as an investment rather than a short-term cost is vital if businesses are to capitalise on new consumer trends. 

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