How to use augmented reality in your market research

Augmented reality has indeed come a long way in recent years, and AR can now even be used in your market research! In addition, 1 of 4 consumers in a recent study said they have used augmented reality while shopping.

Before we get to the now of augmented reality in market research, let’s look at how I’ve used AR so far:

The market research industry is constantly evolving.

AR is easy for consumers to use because it can be done right from their smartphones. In addition, it can help companies get even better feedback because consumers can visualize the product in their surroundings.

In this article, I discuss:

  • How to use AR in market research
  • An AR market research project with a new leaf blower
  • Who should use AR in market research?
  • What’s the future?
  • The importance of internal partners to make your AR market research project a success
  • Behind the scenes: How we implemented AR into our video survey platform

Augmented reality in market research strategy 

AR works well in market research when your brand wants a consumer to view a product and place it in their environment without sending the product to them. Doing that with AR is cheaper and quicker than shipping the product to the consumer or hosting a focus group.

Technology – like AR, video surveys, and others – certainly has helped, and there’s a vital role for the human researcher as well.

Read next: Why customer empathy matters for business and why it’s hard

“You still have to have a human being to think through these problems,” said Jude Olinger, CEO at The Olinger Group, which was the first company to use the new AR feature in the Voxpopme platform. “The technology is great, but it doesn’t do it itself. Even when it’s a DIY thing, somebody still has to do that. So in terms of augmented reality, we are always looking for new and innovative tools to bring to our clients.”

In addition to the strategy, the correct images need to be uploaded. But, of course, that’s not that different from any other projects that need specific files.

Some examples of AR in market research include:

How The Olinger Group used AR with video surveys

Jude’s company worked with a global lawn care equipment manufacturer. They wanted to test a new concept for a corded leaf blower. Olinger ran two versions of the video survey:

  • With questions but without AR of the leaf blower
  • Questions with AR of the leaf blower

“So they were able to go into their back yard or front yard or their lawn and see this product and how it would look and how they would interact with it,” Jude said. “It made it a much richer experience to get feedback from people. Much more realistic than just looking at a picture or a diagram.”

Consumers could “place” the leaf blower into their surroundings, check its size, different colors, and more.

“It wasn’t just conceptual now,” Jude said. “What do you think of this leaf blower? They can see the size and if it’s too big or too small.”

What consumers are saying about augmented reality market research

We asked consumers, and here are their video responses:


What companies should use AR in market research?

“Any company that has a tangible product,” he said. “Anyone that wants to get a reaction to something. And not just showing them a diagram. Especially when it is something new.”

Many consumer products can undoubtedly get an advantage in their market research using AR to show their product enhancement or idea to consumers in their environment. Then get their feedback right there through a quick video response.

What’s the future of AR in market research?

AR certainly has been around for a few years and has evolved. Jude said on “Reel Talk: The Customer Insights Show” that he sees potential for future use for market researchers, but he warns: “I’ve seen a lot of things come and go. Some things stick, and some don’t. But I think AR has potential.”

Read next: How to increase technology adoption of your MR tech stack

AR is less cumbersome than VR

"I think there could be a bright future for this technology."

It can be challenging to get people to spend money on tactics that are not proven, Jude explained. For example, a few years ago, virtual reality seemed on the upswing and potentially helpful in projects.

Instead of building a hotel or part of a hotel, you could build a model room and create it in virtual reality.

“In that instance, you needed very cumbersome equipment,” Jude said. “What we found was that it was hard to find somebody to spend money on something that wasn’t proven. It took a lot of time money and wasn’t very practical.”

And then consumers still needed to have VR headsets, which not everyone has or can afford.

The potential of AR

On the other hand, AR can be done on people’s phones and in their environments – just like video surveys.

“That gives me a lot of optimism that this will be different,” Jude said.

Companies still have to produce files and materials different from what they might have today for the AR project, but it’s been easier to get started than VR, Jude said.

The technical stuff

The ideal file type for iOS Augmented reality is glLTF 2.0 (.glb/.gltf). Apple’s Reality Converter can be used to convert to Universal Scene Description

Consumers are accepting AR

Indeed, a lot has changed during the pandemic, and new trends will continue to emerge. For example, Gartner estimated that 100 million consumers use augmented reality while shopping in 2020.

In addition to the TV and furniture example, consumers can use AR to try on clothes.

“People are becoming more used to that kind of technology,” said Jenn Vogel, vice president of marketing at Voxpopme and host of “Reel Talk.”

VR headsets

VR requires a headset, which many consumers don’t have. On the other hand, AR is easier as it can be done on your phone.

AR is also easier to use, Jude said. VR requires you to wear a headset like I’m wearing in the picture. AR can be done from your smartphone, which many of us now carry around in our pockets.

AR is comfortable for consumers, and it’s also comfortable for the brands, Jude said. What makes AR easier than VR, for example, is that almost everyone carries a smartphone around with them. That’s all that is needed for a consumer to participate in AR research.

In a 2022 Voxpopme consumer study, 3 out of 4 consumers would use augmented reality while shopping.  The automated sentiment analysis of the study’s spoken video responses showed that about half of everything said was also positive. So, consumers seem to be willing and open to trying it.

“It’s really helpful in a sense that it gives you a good impression of what you are going to buy,” said Alex, 35, of Washington, in the study.

The importance of internal partners

For really any project, you’ll need internal partners that are bought in, interested, and want to move the project forward. Leadership support certainly is essential as well.

Using AR in market research is no different. Again, the product owners need to be involved.

“You have to set it up in a way that is usable and works,” Jude said. “The researchers themselves aren’t usually driving the bus on this. If it’s the R&D or product development team, they’ll have to get their cooperation. Otherwise, you are spinning your wheels.”

Perhaps, having an interesting AR video survey can also help battle survey fatigue. In addition, making it interesting for the consumer can bring better results for the company.

How Voxpopme started AR in market research

The idea came out of Product Innovation Summit. The product team met in the United Kingdom and got to work. Mobile Engineer Blain Ellis presented the AR idea.

“We believe that enabling respondents to interact with an augmented reality stimulus will increase engagement and improve the quality of feedback,” Blain wrote in his idea pitch. “This will also provide our customers with more opportunities to perform concept studies on the Voxpopme platform.”

Respondents have interacted with images and links up to this point. That works for some projects, but AR can be better for others.

“The respondent experience will then be presented with the interactive augmented reality experience in the same way in which they would have been presented with an image stimulus,” Blain said.

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