- Department store chain Kohl's is promoting exclusive holiday merchandise in its first augmented reality (AR) window-shopping experience on Snapchat. Kohl's "New Gifts at Every Turn" mobile experience gives the illusion of stepping through a computer-generated portal into a virtual store, where users can buy real products, per an announcement shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer.
- The virtual store can be found in Snapchat's carousel of AR Lenses, which lets users decorate selfies and pictures with digital images before sharing them with friends. The virtual doorway and store use Snapchat's AR Portal Lens technology to provide a more immersive experience for mobile shoppers. Once inside the virtual store, users can tap shoppable links to browse and buy products from Kohl's website. The merchandise includes collections from brands and designers such as Elizabeth and James, Jason Wu, Lauren Conrad, Vera Wang and Scott Living. The virtual store is open Nov. 7-10.
- Kohl's also is featuring the AR shopping experience at a holiday pop-up in New York City through Sunday, per the announcement, as well as integrating with Twitter and Pinterest on gifting inspiration.
Kohl's aims to connect with holiday shoppers by providing an immersive experience that includes a wide range of Snapchat features, including its AR Portal Lens and shoppable products via the social app. By offering the virtual store for a limited time, Kohl's can create a sense of urgency for the merchandise in the lead-up to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which traditionally have ushered in the key holiday shopping season. The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is compressed this year, leading retailers like Kohls' to get a jump start on their holiday promotions and engage potential customers.
The partnership is the latest sign that Snapchat, which was a hot platform a couple of years ago but lost some of its sizzle as Instagram and newcomer TikTok have accelerated, is making somewhat of a comeback following efforts to make its marketing offerings easier to use by brands. Seventy percent of Snapchat's daily active users play with or view AR Lenses every day, giving marketers a chance to engage with an audience of young, tech-savvy consumers.
Snapchat is used by 90% of U.S. teens, who influence billions of dollars in purchase decisions, and by 75% of consumers ages 13 to 34, giving it a broader reach than rivals Instagram and Facebook, per parent company Snap. Reaching that audience is imperative for retailers like Kohl's that are seeking to cut through ad clutter — particularly during the holidays — by offering an immersive experience to shoppers through Snapchat.
Snapchat has made AR a key part of its user experience for years, and continues to develop marketing applications for the technology. It has expanded the range of AR experiences to give brands more ways to engage with the image-messaging app's users. Warner Bros. in March used Snapchat's first voice-activated AR lens to promote the superhero movie "Shazam!" The lens let users say, "OK, Shazam!" to see themselves transformed into the superhero. Snapchat also offers Landmark Lenses that can be geotargeted near major tourist sites and points of interest. HBO and Sony Pictures this year have used Landmark Lenses as part of their geotargeted promotions.
Like Kohl's, Toys R Us Canada is using Snapchat's AR Portal Lens to create an immersive shopping experience. The toy retailer this week became the first company in Canada to use the AR technology in its marketing. Its lens lets Snapchat users walk through a computer-generated "maple leaf" portal into a virtual store that showcases a toy selection. By swiping up in the app, users can visit the Toys R Us Canada website to make a direct purchase.