There’s a common rallying cry among AR proponents that the technology will transform the way people shop. Stepping away from inherently-vested narratives, where are the proof points? Does AR shopping – or camera commerce as we call it – resonate with real consumers?

To support that notion, there are several well-worn performance indicators for AR’s ability to boost conversions in eCommerce contexts. It also can reduce product returns, which are a big retailer pain point. All of this results from elevated buyer confidence from 3D visualization.

Beyond performance, there’s consumer sentiment data. Are they asking for AR? For those who have discovered it otherwise, is it something that’s working for them? Survey data from our research arm ARtillery Intelligence signals good and bad news for consumer AR traction.

Another data set recently hit our desks from eMarketer, showing AR’s traction as a shopping tool among U.S. adults. And unlike past installations of this series, the results include VR. The findings are the focus of this week’s Data Dive, with takeaways and commentary below.

Is AR Landing with Everyday Consumers? Part II

Data Dive

Before diving into the findings, what was the methodology? eMarketer worked with survey research specialist BizRate Insights. The survey was conducted among U.S. adults in February 2022. Consider the date (in light of Covid dynamics) and geographic scope.

So what were the findings?

– Overall, 13 percent of respondents have used AR in shopping contexts.

– Breaking down those users, the minority (3 percent of total respondents), use AR regularly for shopping.

– The remaining 10 percent have used it before (meaning one or more times), but don’t engage regularly.

39 percent of users haven’t engaged in AR shopping but are interested in trying it (15 percent are “very interested.”)

– 47 percent are unlikely adopters, with 37 percent expressly uninterested and 10 percent unaware of AR entirely.

– Sentiments are fairly consistent when segmenting by gender, but vary by age.

– The most AR adoptive and interested age group by far is 18-34, 9 percent of whom use AR regularly.

– The least adoptive segment is 55+, 52 percent of whom are expressly uninterested in using AR for shopping.

See more in the chart below… 

Mixed Results

Synthesizing the results, the findings are mixed. One thing that jumped out about these figures versus past data in this series was the “reality check” that AR usage volumes aren’t so positive and glowing. Indeed, only 3 percent of U.S. adults shop with AR regularly.

This can be framed in a positive light, given that AR has so much headroom to grow. But the regular usage penetration is a bit discouraging for AR proponents. One reason may be the friction and activation energy for AR experiences. It needs to be simpler for mainstream users.

For example, the rise of web AR could help accomplish this. As Niantic CEO John Hanke said at the recent Lightship VPS launch, web AR is “just a QR code away.” In light of Niantic’s integration of the recently acquired 8th Wall, this is meant to reduce app download friction.

Another discouraging point is the folks who are expressly uninterested (37 percent). The consumer survey data produced by our research arm ARtillery Intelligence has found similar results. And as we’ve examined, this stems from a classic chicken & egg dilemma.

In other words, users are happy with AR. Non-users are ambivalent. The challenge is that it’s hard for those non-users to see the technology’s benefits without trying it…as it doesn’t translate to traditional marketing or video. So it will take time and conditioning for AR to assimilate more.

Accelerating this will be prospective killer apps that arise. Apple’s market entrance could also accelerate mainstream adoption through its classic halo effect. And reducing activation energy through things like web AR will also assist. We’ll be on the lookout for all of the above.

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