Industry rhetoric about AR’s world-changing status sometimes outweighs evidence that it’s captivating consumers today. Though we see some signals, such as lens engagement figures from Snap and others, we’re often flying blind when it comes to consumer AR sentiment.

Looking to fill that gap, AR Insider’s research arm ARtillery Intelligence has completed Wave V of its annual consumer survey report. Working with consumer survey specialist Thrive Analytics, it wrote questions to be fielded to 102,000+ U.S. adults and produced a report on the results.

Known as AR Usage & Consumer Attitudes, Wave V, it follows similar reports over the last few years. Five waves of research now bring new insights and trend data to light. And all five waves represent a collective six-digit sum of U.S. adults for robust longitudinal analysis.

Among the topics: How is mobile AR resonating with everyday consumers? How often are they using it? How satisfied are they? What types of experiences do they like most? How much are they willing to pay for it? And for those who aren’t interested in mobile AR….why not?

AR Usage & Consumer Attitudes, Wave V

Uphill Battle

Picking up where we left off in last week’s installment, how do non-users feel about AR? This is an important question as they represent the majority (and AR’s potential future). As we’ve covered, 30 percent of survey respondents use AR, leaving the larger 70 percent portion who don’t.

But the news is not great for this segment of hopeful future converts. When asked why they don’t use AR, the answer they chose most (65 percent) was the rather discouraging “just not interested.” This is deflating for AR companies and proponents, representing an uphill marketing battle.

Adding to that, 20 percent report confusion with mobile AR. That includes “I wouldn’t know where to look” (13 percent) and “I’m not sure if my phone is compatible” (7 percent). 2 percent reported interest but not enough to go through the trouble of looking for, and downloading, AR apps.

These sentiments all have one thing in common, which is lack of understanding. That should be a strong demand signal for more education about AR, as well as easier onboarding (more on that in a bit). These goals could be accomplished over time through AR’s cultural assimilation.

As for the “just not interested” crowd, they represent the most damning of non-user responses. It highlights a key “chicken & egg” dilemma: Because AR is so visual and visceral, you have to experience it to really get it. Without that perspective, there’s little motivation to get a first taste.

Who’s Using AR and How Often?

Activation Energy

Stepping back, these results hold deeper meaning when viewed in light of results elsewhere in this survey. Specifically, they stand in stark contrast to current AR user sentiments. As we’ve covered, those users are both satisfied with mobile AR experiences, and engage often.

So the variance in satisfaction for users and non-users underscores AR’s marketing challenge. People love it after they get a taste… but they have to taste it before reaching that affinity. And with AR, it’s difficult to market the experience through traditional two-dimensional mediums.

This will alleviate as mobile AR gradually assimilates into the consumer population through viral and other means. Meanwhile, adoption can be accelerated in a few ways that were uncovered in this survey. For one, gamification and social features can achieve stickiness and network effect.

But a more impactful factor will be reducing friction. As we continue to echo ad nauseam, AR is too early and unproven to get users to jump through hoops to activate it. So experiences delivered without “activation energy” (e.g., web AR and AR as a Feature), can hit the right marks.

We’ll pause there and circle back in the next Behind the Numbers installment with more original data analysis… Meanwhile, see the full report here.

More from AR Insider…