- Sportswear brand Puma opened its first North American flagship store in New York with interactive displays that activate augmented reality (AR) experiences, per an announcement shared with sister publication Mobile Marketer. As part of the promotion for its new line of basketball shoes, Puma's mobile web app lets customers scan QR codes on signs and shoe tags to see branded content featuring Puma's feline mascot.
- Shoppers can take selfies with the mascot and get directions to the basketball section on the second floor of the Fifth Avenue store. Seven new styles of shoes feature the scannable AR tags.
- The immersive experiences will run through January 2020.
Flagship stores like Puma's newest location in Manhattan help to set the tone for a brand and can become key destinations for shoppers, especially tourists looking for merchandise they can't find online. To appeal to tech-savvy young adults who often use smartphones as a shopping tool, brands need to create immersive in-store experiences that add to the spectacle of browsing in stores. AR adds an interactive dimension to that experience as brands like Puma prepare for the coming holiday season with fanciful window displays and decorations aimed at luring shoppers inside.
AR technology, which combines digital images with a smartphone's camera views, has only been used by 5% of shoppers but does show promising growth potential. Twenty-five percent of surveyed consumers said they'll likely use the technology for shopping in the next year, per a study by researcher GfK. The rollout of high-speed 5G mobile service is predicted to drive growth of AR shopping to 100 million consumers by next year, researcher Gartner estimates.
This isn't Puma's first foray into including AR activations in its marketing. The brand in April released its limited-edition LQD Cell Origin Air sneaker with an app that recognized the shoe when scanned with a smartphone, instead of relying on a printed QR code.
Other brands also have adopted AR technology in their merchandising. Gucci in June added an AR feature to its iOS app that lets shoppers virtually try on its line of Ace sneakers. Nike's app lets shoppers similarly scan their feet with a smartphone camera to get customized recommendations on their correct shoe size. Nike has made a strategy of encouraging customers to use its apps in physical retail locations and using mobile as a tool to enable more high-tech in-store features that could help shoppers learn about products better and potentially drive them to a sale more quickly.
Puma last year was among the most mentioned brands on Instagram because its products appeared in posts by celebrities with strong followings. Singer and actress Selena Gomez, who at that time was the most popular woman on Instagram with 144 million followers, helped Puma with a post that spurred 7.5 million interactions, more than any other brand-related post.